February 6, 2020 marked the second Telluride Arts’ Art Walk of the New Year. Through the month of February, Slate Gray Gallery Telluride is featuring the work of Fran Nagy and Amy Van Winkle. We are lucky enough to have Fran here with us at ESAC in August 2020!
Editorial Written by February 2, 2020.
Two artists from different times and cultures feature attenuated forms in their paintings. Both trace the inspiration of their work to their disparate roots. Both use their platform, fine art, to make statements about The Other, about social ostracism and/or indifference – or worse.
The Italian artist Amadeo Modigliani (July 12, 1884–January 24, 1920) is best known for his portraits and nudes, which feature elongated faces, necks, and bodies.
A show in 2017 at The Jewish Museum in New York centered on how anti-Semitic sentiments, prevalent in Paris at the turn of the 20th century, helped shape Modigliani’s aesthetic during his short, yet extremely prolific 14-year career. Understanding the anti-Semitic social and cultural climate in which those early works were created is crucial to apprehending Modigliani’s overall oeuvre and how it was influenced by his own interpretation of his identity as a Sephardic Jew.
Fran Nagy, a relatively new artist in Slate Gray’s stable, has Native American DNA. Working with acrylic and resin on canvas, like Modigliani, the paintings of this multi-disciplinary artist feature elongated form – but Nagy also depicts her figures with their backs to us as they forward march into an unknown future.
Some of her faceless shapes are stretched to the point of abstraction. Stretched any further and they might disappear into a simple line with no clear identity at all. Nagy’s forms could easily be read as exclamation points at the end of a story about what happened to Native Americans in a country that prides itself – or used to – on being a melting pot.
Native American art has developed over centuries, tracing its roots back to cave paintings, stonework, and earthenware. Typically linked to a deep connection with spirituality and Mother Earth, Native American art comes in many different styles and forms to reflect the unique cultures of diverse tribes.
“My Native American subject matter was inspired by cultural assimilation and my own dwindling genetic makeup. I am the last descendant who carries any physical trace of Native American Indian ancestry. The content of this work speaks for thousands of people who were forced to make a journey down a path of assimilation.”
Nagy’s timing appears to be spot on. Not only are Native issues finally being heard in the media, some of the loudest and loveliest voices are those of artists like her, an American, a native and (in her case, part) a Native American.
Think of Fran Nagy’s paintings as commentaries on the complex relationship between Native and U.S. history and contemporary culture. Her work delivers a powerful message and speaks eloquently to “the ones who are remembered – by how they were forgotten.”
Continuing she says:
“As an artist and through my hands, I have found a voice to create art that is imaginative and also very personal. My work is influenced by my own ethnic and cultural experiences. My paintings, ceramics, and photographic art is abstract and contemporary, with a focus on the human form.”
Fran Nagy was born in Mobile, Al. and grew up in the New Orleans area. She is a life-long artist, former teaching artist, and owner of Imagine Partners in Art.
Her ceramic work has garnered International recognition and numerous awards including an Honorable Mention at the International Ceramic Festival (Mino Japan, 2011) for her ceramic piece entitled “The Connected Couple.” In 2012, Nagy combined sculpture and woodwork to create a unique piece “The Owls,” which won the Grand Prize at the Nature Conservancy’s “Picnic for the Plant.”
By invitation, Nagy’s work was included in Vasefinder International Exhibition, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014.
Fran Nagy has been represented by the Becca Gallery, New Orleans and LA; Robertson Gallery, Mobile, AL; Alabama Clay Market, Birmingham, AL; Birmingham Botanical Gardens Gallery, Birmingham, AL; Little House Gallery, Homewood, AL; The Grand Bohemian Gallery,Mountain Brook, AL; and lately Slate Gray Gallery, Telluride.
To read more about her Telluride co-exhibitor, Amy Van Winkle, visit the link below.