devening projects + editions invites you to the opening of Land Loping, the first solo exhibition in the gallery from Chicago artist Nancy Ford.
In large wall pieces carefully constructed from fabric and thread, along with plaster and cardboard sculptures, Nancy Ford examines how one perceives and interprets unfamiliar landscapes, and looks for the triggers and cues that direct perceptual movement. Her project reflects on how forms are recognized and what happens in the moments prior to that identification. The work is physical, optical, and rich in its reminiscence of the settings from which they’re inspired. Long walks through Death Valley and Zion National Park offered an opportunity for Ford to problematize form, light, scale, and color in her recent work. Traveling to those remote sites directly from a dense urban setting necessitated certain sensory adjustments. Shifting her perspective and forced to make regular optical adjustments to accommodate the expanded horizon, the walks through these landscapes form the basis for this current project. The movement of the sun, surface reflection, and the constant state of spatial flux meant regular reorientations to her place in the landscape. Territory became hard to measure; somber, monochromatic mountain ranges, upon close examination, revealed themselves to be sloppy upheavals of color.
In the studio, Ford processes the sensory phenomenon experienced during her travels; the resulting work looks at what it means to learn to see differently. Rather than depicting the landscape literally, the work translates that material into abstracted fragments mapping a terrain to engage the eye’s activity. It acknowledges that memory is the imperfect version of a picture; it can distort subtle color into high contrast, correct for blind spots, or warp one’s sense of scale. The fabric pieces employ flat, demarcated “brush strokes” whose colors resonate at each shared edge. Optical illusion and depth of field come into play as the compositions develop. Certain colors advance, then sink back when punched up against a competing value. These marks act in the same way when sunlight hits an object: every point and contour shift creates a new mark; the forms become a culmination of many smaller, separate smudges of light.
The sculptures take a slightly different tact. Reinterpreting the more grounded parts of the landscape, they become objects upon which the eye lands to slow down perceptual absorption. Offering a momentary resting place, they break up the optical movement within the field of vision created by the wall works. The sculptures interrupt and focus the view in a way not unlike the source from which they’re inspired.
Nancy Ford’s abstractions are not simple mutations of land-based forms, but hover in the middle ground between observation, perception, and understanding.
Nancy Ford received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has shown her work nationally at rowland contemporary, Joymore, Gallery 312 in Chicago and Artists Space in New York. Her work has also been featured in exhibitions in Los Angeles, Boston, London and Japan.