Saturday, June 12, 2010

Nancy A. Lowe: Artist Interview —
Flow and Control Show

Distrust, 2010
12 x 12"
encaustic and brass on board

Lynette (LH): Nancy, can you share with my readers a little about yourself?

Nancy: My background and interests are quite varied (I bore easily): I’m a combination of artist, history buff, analytical mathematician, business woman, teacher/mentor, and speed freak.

There doesn’t seem to have been any time in my life when I wasn’t involved in the arts. My Mother made sure that I experienced pretty much anything that interested me: ballet, piano, painting, sculpture, and a myriad of other things.

I ran an IT company for many years that had two divisions: one created and serviced software systems for accounting and finite-capacity project management, the other provided off-site computer media storage and intellectual property escrow. My time was split between managing the daily affairs of the company, designing systems for critical path scheduling, and teaching software classes. My graphic design training helped a lot with our sales materials and user manuals, but it was a rather minor part of my job.

The more stressful work became, the more I needed an absorbing leisure activity. I love driving high performance cars, and found that I never thought about work while racing. Add in my love of teaching, and you get me as your dedicated instructor in the passenger seat of a sports car on a race track. Its actually a bit like using encaustic: you have to be able to control how the car behaves so it will flow the way you want around the track.

LH: Please describe a bit about your work in general—what is it about, your process, etc.

Nancy: Being an avid student of history, my work is grounded in my heritage. There are three Scottish clans in my ancestry, so the work has a certain attitude about it and spans a timeline from ancient Scotland to modern America. My Dad and Grandpa owned a foundry, so there is always metal in my work: either aluminum, brass, or iron.

I’ve worked exclusively in encaustic since my first class with Tracy Spadafora. No other medium allows me to bring my ideas to life. My work takes nature-made items and blends them with man-made ones. Two of the current series contain combinations of fragile with durable, shiny with dull, and flexible with rigid. They are created by slicing and weaving ribbons of pressed flower petals and leaves, hammer-split aluminum tubing, and hand made papers. One series has simple weavings and another is interpretations of registered Scottish tartans.

I’m very process oriented (most of the IT customers were manufacturers) and see the creation of my work as a series of interconnected production steps. Once I’ve laid out the design, elements are fabricated separately, then assembled into a finished work.

Second Chance, 2010
12 x 12"
encaustic and brass on board, (detail, below)

LH: How many of the Encaustic Conferences at Montserrat have you attended?
Nancy: All of them! Each has been a great learning experience and it just keeps getting better. Kudos to Joanne and everyone else involved in conference management for their excellent work.

LH: Did you create this work specifically for this juried show? Please explain.
Nancy: Yes, I did. This is a new grid-based series that uses only brass forms and encaustic. I had been thinking about this idea for quite a while, trying to work out some technical issues. A little while after I read the full description for this year’s juried show, something finally clicked. The works are quite time-intensive – from layout to materials collection and preparation to construction and painting. I went through so many test boards to debug the construction methods that I only had time to complete two works before the submission deadline. As I said, for me, its all about the process.

LH: What is your workspace like?
Nancy: My studio is in my home as I prefer to focus on the work without outside influences or disruptions. The encaustic area is quite small and so crammed with materials that I barely have space to walk around my work table. The walls (what you can see of them) and ceiling are painted bright white and there are full-spectrum bulbs in all the light fixtures. Those lights really help during the frequent grey days here in Pittsburgh. The only thing that may really distinguish my space from any other one used for encaustic is my excessive use of silicone baking mats. Once cooled, layered constructs pop right off of the mats, ready for use. They’re also great for reclaiming all that wax I tend to dribble everywhere.

LH: Do you have other jobs other than making art?
Nancy:I’m retired now, but spend a lot of time with charity work and numerous hobbies. Its fairly normal for my fun to get in the way of my other fun – and I definitely consider art to be fun.

Thank you Nancy!

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