I stay inspired by looking at different kinds of art, traveling whenever I can and always trying to explore the unfamiliar. On a trip I took to Greece, I saw early Cycladic work that gave me a better understanding of figurative abstraction and what I want to do. The Stones of Callanish in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland were also a powerful influence. My current glass and mixed media work is pushing me in new directions. Whenever I am not feeling inspired, I round up my usual suspects – artists I love – Giacometti, David Smith, Louise Nevelson, Isamu Noguchi, Stephen De Staebler, Matisse – look at their work and get back into the studio – to find the only way inspiration really happens – by working.
When I was 19, I saw Alberto Giacometti’s work for the first time at the Art Institute of Chicago. He stopped me dead in my tracks – and still does. I did not make a commitment to my own art practice until years later, but his work and dedication to the figure have been strong influences. He wrote, “Artistically I am still a child with a whole life ahead of me to discover and create. I want something, but I don’t know what it is until I succeed in doing it.” I also do not begin with preconceived ideas. I work by engaging with my porcelain and tools – equal partners. Letting each piece find its own voice. Being comfortable with inevitable uncertainty and failure.
My abstract sculpture was initially fueled by the Stones of Callanish, an ancient stone circle in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland and more renowned sites like Stonehenge and Avebury in southern England. While the current work still draws on these megalithic forms, I am also drawn to integrating other materials – placing iron directly into the clay, using encaustic on the surface, and creating environments out of stone or recycled metal. Although all of my work begins in porcelain, I am interested in how the “spirit” of a figure shifts as it moves from porcelain, to bronze to glass. My current work also explores surface – from the raw purity of unglazed porcelain to more complex and less predictable shino and raku glazes. I am also working larger and scaling work up.
I have always been drawn to the figure and my work continues to explore abstraction and its expressive possibilities. My process is intuitive. One of my favorite sculptors, Isamu Noguchi, describes his way of working: “Many ideas come while I am working. I think of myself as being led by unexpected forces. If it isn’t a surprise, there is something wrong…sometimes I don’t even know what I am doing.”
The fragmented figure has long been a visual preoccupation for me -- particularly as it relates to the Japanese idea of “zan ketsu no bi” – finding beauty in something missing. I draw inspiration from Greek Cycladic sculpture, mummified forms, and the work of Alberto Giacometti. He wrote: “The object of art is not to reproduce reality, but to create a reality of the same intensity.”
Selected Solo and Group Exhibitions
Seager/Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA, Finding the Figure, Solo Exhibition, 2018
The San Francisco Design Center, San Francisco, CA, Kneedler/Fauchere Showroom, 2018
Seager/Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA, Powder and Smoke, 2017
Seager/Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA, Material Matters, 2017
Seager/Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA, Summer Salon, Gallery Figures, 2016
Seager/Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA, Personae, Solo Exhibition, 2015
Art Market San Francisco with Seager Gray Gallery, 2015, 2016
Seager/Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA, All in the Family, 2015
Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition, Brooklyn, NY, Figuratively Speaking, National Juried Show, 2014
Susan Street Fine Art, Solano Beach, CA, Sculpture Spotlight: Nancy Legge and Carl Dahl, 2014
Seager/Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA, Women’s Work, 2014
Seager/Gray Gallery,Mill Valley, CA, Summer Salon, 2013
Seager/Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA, Figures in Abstract, 2012
Pryor Fine Art, Atlanta, GA, Fall Salon, 2011
Pryor Fine Art, Atlanta, GA, Introductions, 2011
Donna Seager Gallery, San Rafael, CA, New Work by Gallery Artists, 2011
Susan Street Fine Art, Solano Beach, CA, Forever and Floating, 2011
L.H. Horton Jr. Gallery, San Joaquin Delta College, Stockton, CA, Visions in Clay, 2010.
San Francisco Fine Art Fair with Donna Seager Gallery, San Francisco, CA, 2010
Lincoln Arts and Cultural Foundation, Lincoln, CA, Feats of Clay XXI, 2008.
Kellogg University Art Gallery, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA, Ink and Clay 34, 2008
Kellogg University Art Gallery, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona, CA, Ink and Clay 33, 2007
Donna Seager Gallery, San Rafael, CA, Finding the Figure, Waldemar Mitrowsk and Nancy Legge, 2006
The Branson School Gallery, Ross, CA, From Callanish to California, solo exhibition, 2005
CFA Gallery, San Anselmo, CA, San Francisco International Art Exposition, 2005
PRO ARTS Gallery, Oakland, CA, New Visions: Introductions ’04, A Juried Exhibition of California Artists, Juried by Rene di Rosa and Jack Rasmussen, 2004
CFA Gallery, San Anselmo, CA, The Figure in Art: New Explorations of a Bay Area Tradition, 2004
Sebastopol Center for the Arts, Sebastopol, CA, White on White: New Figurative Sculpture, solo exhibition, 2004
Sanchez Art Center, Pacifica, CA, elements: 2 painters and a sculptor, 2004
Tierra Solida, Santa Barbara, CA, Clearly Black & White, curated by Michael Arntz, 2003
Sebastopol Center for the Arts, Sebastopol, CA, Annual Juried Exhibition, Juror’s Award, 2003
Sebastopol Center for the Arts, Sebastopol, CA, Sculpture, curated by Manuel Neri, 2003
Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael, CA, Memorias: El Dia de los Muertos, an invitational show celebrating the Day of the Dead, 2002
Marin County Civic Center, San Rafael, CA, It Figures…A Showcase of Figurative Works by Eighteen Marin County Artists, 2002
Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael, Falkirk 2002 Marin Artists Exhibition, curated by Claire Carlevaro, The Art Exchange, 2002
Galerie Elektra, Sausalito, CA , new bronzes exhibited, 1999 – 2004
Publications and Other Affiliations
O’Hanlon Center for the Arts, Mill Valley, CA, 13th Annual Wabi-Sabi Exhibition, Juried by Nancy Legge, June, 2016
Nancy Legge, Personae, Catalog for Seager/Gray Solo Exhibition, August, 2015
Marin Independent Journal, July 6, 2006, “The Mystery of Stone and Human Form,” Working Artist Profile by Christine Brenneman.
500 Figures in Clay Ceramic Artists Celebrate the Human Form
Lark Books, 2004.
Artweek, November, 2004, Review of New Visions: Introductions ’04, A Juried Exhibition of California Artists.
Ceramics Monthly, Work featured in “Upfront,” February, 2003.
Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael, CA, Wit and Wisdom Small Works from the Pacific Rim Sculptors Group, Curated by Beth Goldberg and Nancy Legge, 2005.
Falkirk Cultural Center, San Rafael, CA, Exhibitions Selection Committee, 2004 - 2008.
Member, International Sculpture Center
Pratt Institute, New York, NY
The Studio School, New York, NY
The National Academy of Design, New York, NY
Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA, (Workshop with Kirstie Rea)
Mendocino Art Center, Mendocino, CA , (Workshops with Stephen De Staebler and John Toki)
Taking the Leap, Emeryville, CA, (A professional practices program for visual artists)
Pryor Fine Art, Atlanta, GA
Seager/Gray Gallery, Mill Valley, CA
Susan Street Fine Art, Solano Beach, CA