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Nan Ring

West Orange, NJ

"To Bring the Invisible Into the Light"
In subject matter and sensibility, I have been called “an intimist,” a word coined by a mentor who understood my obsession as an artist with detail and the intimate, small moment. My intention is to create visual poetry; to bring the invisible, the unknown, the deeply felt but intangible, into the light. I am often addressing questions in my work about how the human body experiences the world, both the beauty and the burden of that experience. I love the body and all it contains; its memory, form, desire and emotion. Veils interest me because of the way they disrupt the figure and change the silhouette. Their transparency creates intricacy and mystery — shrouding, shielding — that I find satisfying visually and emotionally, and I like the way they invite multiple interpretations of ceremony, costume, disguise, or ritual. Performed in by models, predominantly family and other members of my community, the garments are designed to communicate the emotions of the body such as longing, desire, joy, and many others, and to address the essential question, “How do we fit in — or not — to our bodies, our skin, our clothes, our society and the world?”
Common themes in my work include feminism, gender politics, the female gaze and ephemerality. The series of works I call "Veiled Figures," are painted in a mixture of Prussian blue, raw umber and white oil paint, a Flemish old master technique that I sometimes finish with transparent glazes painted in layers like sheets of colored glass. The light passes through the layers creating the color. I also use watercolor and gouache because their flowing quality lends itself to looser depictions of the body that I create to communicate the fluidity of inner states of being. Primarily a painter, my paintings sometimes exist in conversation with other media such as photography, poetry, drawing and sewing. I love slow, meditative processes like this that speak to the need today for stillness and reflection in the face of a world in crisis dominated by speed, drama and spectacle. I take my own black and white reference photographs with a Nikon FE film camera gifted to me by my late father, and develop my film in the darkroom. The long hours spent in meditation and observation of a subject to translate it into a detailed painting inspired by a darkroom photo is an element of the finished piece that is extremely important to me; contemporary life is rushed, and we don’t often have the opportunity to slow down to be fully present with our world. 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 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 to me, an avid baker, were handwritten, with the fingerprints and notations of the pastry maker 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.
Wescover creator since 2020

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