My background and experience are in realism and my two-dimensional artwork has so far been focused on clear representation. But working with abstraction and surrealism in glass has helped me realize that accuracy is not the most important element in art.
What matters is striking a memory, a thought, a feeling – leaving room for mystery and the viewer’s imagination, for the unseen back story that is only implied in the work. I want a cooperative effort between myself and the viewer, mediated by the art piece.
I have been drawing since childhood, with an early fascination with color and shape, pattern and juxtaposition. Later I focused intently on materials, from oil paints to glass casting. I studied human anatomy and spent a lot of time learning art history, always striving in my own work for realistic representation of people, landscapes, and still life.
Today I’m more concerned with what a work of art can convey or inspire in its viewers. Every viewer brings a specific set of memories and interests to a work, and it’s important to stay open to their possibilities, not closing off potential meanings. I may know what I want to say, but can I know what the viewer sees? Can I even know what I am saying in a particular piece, if meaning is a creation in the viewer’s mind?
I’m still essentially a realist in my art, but “realism” has developed new implications for me. One always has to leave room for new directions.
Nancy Donnelly is delighted to give her time to making art in glass and other media. She has lived in the District of Columbia for 10 years, and before that in Washington State, California, Wisconsin and Illinois. She has worked wherever she could learn more, from college teaching to construction work to encyclopedia indexing. Currently her reading focuses on popular science and art history. Nancy has traveled in northern and southern Europe, Southeast Asia, Nepal, China, Japan, and most recently Ethiopia and Syria. Her most recent award has been an artistic fellowship from the DC Commission on Arts and Humanities. Nancy’s work is in many private collections as well as the collection of the Shakespeare Theater. It looks like she will never be done with art.
Nancy trained in glass art at the Washington Glass School, Mt. Rainier, MD; Vitrum Studio, Beltsville, MD; Pratt Fine Arts Center, Seattle, WA; and Bullseye Glass, Portland, OR. Her training in painting includes studies at the Torpedo Factory, Alexandria, VA; Gage Academy (previously Seattle Academy of Fine Art), Seattle, WA; and the Cornish College of the Arts, Seattle, WA. Nancy also holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Washington, Seattle.
Nancy served on the Foundry Gallery Board of Directors as Treasurer for two years and was a member of the Steering Committee of the Capitol Hill Art League from 2005-2010. She volunteered at Art-o-matic in 2004 and 2008. She received a Small Projects Grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities for 2003-2004 and an Artist Fellowship Award from the Commission for 2008-2009.
She and her work were covered in the Hill Rag in “Artist Portrait: Nancy Donnelly,” by Jim Magner, June 2009, p. 86, and the DCArtNews.blogspot.com, October 7, 2008.
- Washington Glass School 10th anniversary show, Long View Gallery, Washington, DC
- Color and Shape, duo show with Jill Finsen, City Gallery, Washington, DC
- Foundry Gallery, solo show, Washington, DC
- Light and Allusion, duo show with Jill Finsen ,City Gallery, Washington DC
- Foundry Gallery, four-artist exhibit, Washington, DC
- Lottoheart, Rehoboth Convention Center, Rehoboth Beach, DE
- Body Armor, Black Rock Center for the Arts, Germantown, MD
- A Cast of Characters, Foundry Gallery, Washington, DC
- Body Armor, Suffolk County Museum, Suffolk, VA
- 3 x 5, Capitol Hill Art and Frame, Washington, DC
- Art-o-matic 2009, Washington DC
Exhibits 2008 and earlier
- Art-o-matic 2008, Washington DC
- Park Café, solo shows, May-June and November, Washington, DC
- Art Anonymous, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC
- Art-o-matic 2004, Washington DC
- Fusion Café, Washington, DC
Continuing group show participation
Capitol Hill Art League, 2005-present
Foundry Gallery members shows, 2010-present