Briefly describe the work you do.
My photographs are investigations of female gender roles as influenced by American culture and mass media. This body of work is a 21st century extension of feminist concerns regarding the media’s portrayal of women. More specifically, I am interested in the explicit and implicit power relations that are constructed and maintained by mediatized systems of representation.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I started off my career in photography working as a freelance photojournalist. In addition, as undergraduate student I was introduced to the video, Killing Us Softly by Jean Kilbourne, which continue to feed my work. Gender in the media and gendered roles in society, including my own profession, have driven me to take notice and speak out about my own impressions as to how our culture continues to objectify and suppress women.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
The notion of the “artist studio” is foreign to me as I do my art making out in the world, outside or on location. I do spend a fair amount of time in “my studio”. I create my work on film and utilize contemporary methods, scanning and printing my work.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
I have had many occasion recently to be invited to lecture about my creative process. When I first started making photographs, the prospect of lecturing was not a path I originally considered, yet I find it a most rewarding experience discussing the creative process of making my work and the intensions behind it.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
I often use models to make my work, so we are in constant communication coordinating schedules, props, locations and weather. I consider any time myself and my models align, a good time, the varying elements of light and weather become interesting parts of the process.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
In the last five years I have been able to use the psychology of one body of work and the asetstics of another and combine these into the work I am doing presently. This was a challenged I posed to myself, and one that pushed me to try many different approached that lead to where I am now.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
There are several artists that I find especially inspiring including Martha Rosler and Mary Beth Edelson and many female artist from the 70s, specifically the work they were doing then. I would not be able to do what I do if I did not have the support of my family and friends. My partner Bill Paarlberg is also an artist which helps us to nurture each other and have a lot in common to enjoy and talk about.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
My path has brought me to a career that is multidimensional. I was recently interviewed by at TV show, Boston Chronicle, and I was able to see several women working really interesting jobs, a producer, a camera person and an editor. I found myself very interested in what the producer what doing, all the research she did, and organizing, and had I knew such a career existed, perhaps that may have been an interesting direction to take.
Nancy Grace Horton is a photo-based artist who embraces both analog and digital techniques to create bold narrative fragments fed by her background in photojournalism. Her series Ms. Behavior utilizes gender roles as inspiration to stimulate a feminist discussion. Her Learning to See school and community projects bring students near and far together to use photography to explore their communities. She holds an MFA from Lesley University College of Art and Design, and her work has been exhibited at the Danforth Museum, the Griffin Museum, the New York Photo Fest and the A.I.R. Gallery in Brooklyn, NY. Nancy Grace Horton is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including several Artist Entrepreneurial Grants from the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.