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Nan Ring

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What are you working on right now?

After a long year of grief for the overwhelming amount of deaths from disease and violence, I find that my work has taken a turn toward a desire for light, a sense of poetry and color. A return to joy feels urgent, along with a return to a feeling of spirit, of hope for new beginnings, and of willingness for reckonings and reparations. I'm using a technique of glazing layers of pure color one atop another that interact like layered sheets of colored glass; the light passes through the layers, each of which take 24 hours or more to dry, and the viewer perceives the color created by the combinations. This process is a balance of control and chance; there is accident in the way the glazes pour and flow as well as my intervention with palette knife, brush and rag. This process is a conversation between myself and my materials, and is part of the work that is important to me; in life as well as in art, it’s rewarding to practice both give and take. I'm working simultaneously now in both realism and abstraction, but all of the work has been, for a long while, informed by the human body and inner states of being. Recently, I'm exploring more fully my passionate engagement with paint itself, its body. Just like the human body, it can be thick and thin, fluid, pliant or resistant by turns, and dries with the passage of time. The gestures of the human body including, for instance, the turn of a head, shifting planes of the back or a bend of neck, translate easily into gestures of paint – swipes of the brush, large passages of quiet, meditative glazes and details, and the simple act of keen observation of a subject that is being transcribed into visual language. All of my work has a strong connection to poetry. I want the work to function the way that poems do: to resist the viewer somewhat, to offer the possibility for multiple interpretations, to evolve as the viewer evolves and to mean different things to viewers at different points of life. That each piece is made by hand is an essential component of the work. I first experienced an appreciation of the handmade from makers in my family, particularly the women who knitted, tatted, crocheted, embroidered, baked and cooked, taking their time to make fine handmade objects. There was always domestic ritual around the making; table linens, sweaters, blankets, and pastries that all bore the print of the maker and the obvious signs of hours and hours of careful, patient craft. Even the recipes, handed down, were handwritten, with the fingerprints and notations of the baker preserved as a valued part of the inheritance. I grew up on stories of strong ancestors who survived hardships with imagination and persistence, tools that as an artist I count among my most essential. Family ties and domestic space and the methodology of creating are intertwined, whether it’s recipes or instinct that is being followed and honored. The handed down is passed from one to another in order to preserve, and in my own way as an artist, I do my part to continue the thread with art making. In the end, as with life, the work is about the space I leave for others.

What would you like to say about Manufacturers Village Artist Community?

Manufacturer's Village is my home away from home. The community of artists here rescued me from the isolation of my home studio and from other studio buildings I tried where there was not a cohesive, supportive group like we have at MV. The diversity of work and the level of professionalism is exciting and inspiring. The camaraderie is priceless. Coming into the building feels like nothing else in my life; it's where I can truly be my authentic self. It's very much like being an artist-in-residence at an art colony but instead of miles away for a limited space of time, it's right here every day. I feel fortunate to have a situation like this right in my own neck of the woods. It's a magical place, and a lot of magic is being worked there by some very interesting and impressive artists. Open studio events are revelatory; every day I'm humbled to be in such good company and to be able to count myself among them. MV provides the space both physically and in spirit for all to evolve and grow together., but more than that, to find solace and acceptance as an artist in the company of like-minded souls.

What's next for you?

I will be showing this fall with Bridgette Mayer gallery in her annual benefit exhibition in Philadelphia, PA. I am also preparing for a large art fair, TBA. As a member of Mayer's Art MBA program, I'm building my studio practice into a larger business with business coaching from Ms. Mayer.

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