I refer to the unknown and the unknowable in my work, whether it is through the story of a scientist who is trying to extend their sense by grafting on animal senses (The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes) or the character Ima Plume, Public Illustrator, who says:

There were things I could draw pictures of, and there were things that couldn’t be drawn; more and more I was attracted to the second category. There were things I wanted to describe, but I didn’t know how. There were things that I wanted to show, but there was no way to show them.

The Haunted Camera 

Andrews 9 still 4 The Strange Eyes of Dr Myes copy

Nancy Andrews, still from The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes (starring Michole Briana White), digital film, 2015.

Andrews 8 still from The Strange Eyes of Dr Myes copy

Nancy Andrews, still from The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes (starring Michole Briana White), digital film, 2015. [Click on the images to go to the video]

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Nancy Andrews, still from The Haunted Camera, 16mm film, 2006. [Click on the image to go to the video]

In the studio by myself, I let my eyes roll back into my head and drift and see where the materials, objects, thoughts, images lead me. I want to be willing to do things or show things that are embarrassing or risky. I can edit later as needed. I try not to pre-edit too much. I love to pursue things that I don’t or can’t understand, and mine those cracks and fissures. These mysterious regions are rich, like death, something that affects us all and remains a great mystery. And art is magical, a reversal of the portrait of Dorian Gray: the artwork can attain eternal youth while our bodies descend into decrepitude.

ANDREWS 2 Lemons copy

Nancy Andrews, Lemons, felt, found figurine, wood, 4 x 2 x 1 ft., 2023.

ANDREWS 3 Boxing copy

Nancy Andrews, Boxing, felt, found glove, wood, 4 x 2 x 1 ft., 2023.

ANDREWS 1 Polar Bear copy

Nancy Andrews, Polar Bear, felt, found figurine, ironing board, wood, 4 x 3 x 2.5 ft., 2023.

My practice moves fluidly between film, music, drawing/collage, sewing, and sculptural forms. I enjoy working in tactile realms, although the computer is a great tool for editing film and recording and mixing music. My ideas usually start with something that strikes my curiosity and then builds. I don’t start with a logical premise. And, I can often only understand the work much later once I get some distance. The realms I represent are concerned with inner states and the outer forces that shape them. For instance, the sculpture Lemons has to do with the blind eyes that do not look at the messed up phallic libidos in the home that are directed to children. Boxing employs pink boxing gloves as a female power symbol and combines with misshapen arteries. I have some issues that are genetically caused that affect my vascular system, but on a less personal plane, those are symbols for vulnerabilities, being “hung out to dry.” So maybe in both they are an attempt to claim back power and agency from bad things that happen that we (or I) have no control over.

Andrews 12 Poodle with Leg copy

Nancy Andrews, Poodle with Leg, ink and collage on Bristol paper, 11 x 17 in., 2020.

I use methods that challenge me so that I can’t become glib. For instance, after forty years of making films and videos, I recently bought a Super 8 camera, and I am shooting my first roll of film in this camera, not knowing how it will turn out. This methodology adds the unexpected back in, so I continue to have aspects that are not within my full control. I love ink, as I can exercise some control over ink and brush, but I can’t fully control how the ink will react with the paper, especially if it is wet-on-wet. I guess that is life. We want to feel in control, but we aren’t in control. In the studio I can enjoy that chance and mystery, more than I enjoy chance and mystery in “real” life. While driving in a car or airplane, then mystery is scary.

ANDREWS 4 Pink copy

Nancy Andrews, Pink, paint and collage on colored paper 26 x 20 in., 2022.

ANDREWS 5 Stacked copy

Nancy Andrews, Stacked, paint and collage on colored paper 26 x 20 in., 2022.

ANDREWS 6 Cloud jpg copy

Nancy Andrews, Cloud 1, paint and collage on colored paper 26 x 20 in., 2022.

Andrews 11 Lady in Woods copy

Nancy Andrews, Lady in Woods, ink and collage on paper, 22 x 30 in., 2008.

Dreams and hallucinations are obviously a place that is full of mystery and unknowing, but at the same time, dreams are fruitful and lush with metaphors and stories. I dream about art exhibits, music, murder, swimming with large aquatic mammals, flying, giant waves, trees falling, monsters, villains, gardens, and being lost in strange but familiar cities or subway systems or trains. Lately, I have many dreams located in the home and neighborhood that I most associate with my childhood. I had a vivid dream a couple of months ago that I entered another time, a medieval time where women were regarded on the same level as street dogs. I had no way to get back to where I came from, and I was so distressed that I knew suicide was the only way out, but then I stole some food from a street vendor and new hope arose that I could survive. Stealing was very empowering. In life, I think we experience very dark places that are beyond total comprehension, and we must deal with that to survive and try to thrive. Art has a great potential for helping that process. I sometimes start with images from dreams or hallucinations and work them out on paper or on film. I think one of the roles of creativity is to make connections that are not commonly held in association but can create their own palette and make meaning from disparate pieces. I make a type of narrative, but not the classic Hollywood version of life as a process of overcoming obstacles and living happily ever after. There is no “happily ever after,” except maybe when we die and go back to the primordial ooze where it is all just energy, love, and no individual beings.


Image at top: Nancy Andrews, Bird Girl in Well, still from The Strange Eyes of Dr. Myes, ink and collage on paper, 22 x 30 in., 2008.