For decades, I’ve been pushing my own boundaries as a fine artist and musician. I began as a plein-air painter, traveling for extended periods of time in my early 20s.
This morphed into what I call “Peoplescapes”: oil, sculpture and mixed media on canvas, addressing socio-political and spiritual issues facing our world. Using juxtaposition, often adding three-dimensionality, I weave together narratives about contemporary society, including symbolism, historical references and sardonic portraiture. My work has highlighted matters such as global warming, the pharmaceutical, medical, and financial industries, immigration, the toxins in our food and freedom. I am intrigued by both the dark and light facets of the human condition, while frustrated by the inequality between the races and the greed of those in a position to know better.
Art has saved my life. My childhood years were spent modeling in New York City, managed by my bi-polar stage mother. Her awful mood swings combined with the grown-up world of vanity, commodification and exploitation led me to anorexia and bulimia. Fortune came my way as I was granted early admission to college away from home at fifteen years old. Struggling with a full-blown food disorder, I moved into a dormitory and began studying art. For the first time I found myself working inside out, exploring my dark feelings and harshest emotions to keep my art truthful. Alchemy occurred. Although the end product was not yet refined, I began to convert negative energy into positive action, identifying a creative rhythm that continues to this day. It has taken years of tussling with my demons, through creativity and commitment to painting, to release my self-destructive patterns and embrace healing. This discipline helps broker honest self-inspection and acceptance, allowing me to move from observer to creator.
Push and Pull to Evolution (oil on canvas, 40” x 40”) highlights the growth and change necessary in the development of humanity; how fear, greed and anger diminish and obstruct our ability to experience life from a grander perspective. As we grow and evolve, powerful forces in many dimensions help us shape our lives. There exists a push and pull towards evolution; the tussle continues until we free ourselves of those elements binding us to antiquated beliefs, while the world around us is conforming. By integrating religious, spiritual and alchemistic symbols in a Mandela-like composition, I hope to move the observer beyond the mind’s limitations to incorporate the heart and spirit. The alchemistic symbols scattered throughout represent fixation, preparation, reverberation, composition, fusion, coagulation and solution, evoking peace and resolution.
Nancy Calef, San Francisco, California June 2018
Find Nancy here: nancycalefgallery.com