Art exhibit celebrates GLBT pride with historic portraits

While many of her contemporaries may be currently obsessed with looking to the future in their expressions, Nashville artist Nancy VanReece has chosen to ground her art steadfast in the present, while looking to the horizons of the past to guide her—and her work—into the future.

Meant as a celebration of the 40 year anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, Nancy’s 2009 Pride Portraits Series is not only a snapshot of where she is as an artist and a person but also the long and bumpy road that brought her to this place. With this work Nancy is showing homage to the fact that throughout history there have always been lively souls who lived boldly for the rights and privileges that we enjoy today. 

Nancy’s “The Pride Portraits” of LGBT faces in history will be debuted on Tuesday, June 9th, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Ugly Mugs Coffee & Tea, 1886 Eastland Avenue in the Walden building. The exhibit will be on display through the end of June.

With each portrait in this series Nancy is acknowledging that in the landscape of her life, there is color, texture, movement and light because of the contributions of these seven individuals (Del Martin, Phylis Lyon, Urvashi Vaid, Jane Wagner, Lillian Faderman, Lucy Burns, Bayard Rustin) and many more just like them.

 In viewing Nancy VanReece’s expressions of abstract portraiture, she hopes to draw the viewer into a story or narrative continuity with her subjects and herself as the artist. “These are people whose unique courage and foresight have influenced not just how I view my world but how the world views me.”

No matter what phase of life she may be in Nancy has learned to always apply a basic principle to her approach to art: She needs color, texture, movement and light or she loses interest. These fundamental elements form the cornerstone of how Nancy expresses herself and have their origins in her work on the canvas.

Nancy began her career in contemporary and abstract expression in the mid- 90's focusing on elemental and nature themes until a hand injury left her without the ability to paint for over 18 months. A retreat to Santa Fe, New Mexico in spring of 2003 renewed her body and mind with inspiration and guidance from other respected expressionists.

This renewed period in Nancy’s life produced many changes in her approach to expression on canvas by encouraging her to create energy and movement in multimedia spaces through multi-layered acrylic and series of antique photographs. Nancy also adopted the method of using water in differing streams of force as well as natural texture elements with acrylic on canvas. These techniques allowed her to more fully express new ideas and inspirations through the use of movement and texture along with color and light.

In 2004 and 2005 Nancy applied her newfound dedication to these four essential elements to any art to several popular series on behaviors, whimsical animals and large scale landscapes. 2006 saw her interpreting show places in her memory or places she wished existed. Nancy is currently focusing on abstract expressions of people and places of import to her personal continuity and sense of history.

Without what she feels to be the essential elements of expression-movement, texture, color and light-Nancy’s art would be severely handicapped. History moves us forward in time. The texture of culture, fashion, ethos and ideas make up the fabric of all history. Color has always been a powerful interpreter of emotion and light has shaped all things by shades throughout recorded time.

It is Nancy VanReece’s sincere hope that her approach to the idea that a person is the sum total of all the events, people and places that went before them will resonate in these expressions. If someone walks away having learned that their own journey is an artful one, then she will have accomplished her goal. She will have helped by creating an object that tells us all the story of what has gone before in the past that made us what we are and will continue to shape us as we move forward.

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