Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Feminist Art Base: Nancy Floyd

Nancy Floyd

Nancy Floyd is an artist whose exhibition record includes shows in the United States, Japan and Europe, with over twenty solo exhibitions and eighty group exhibitions. Her work has been published in many periodicals including Light Work’s Contact Sheet (1999), as well as in the books Her Best Shot: Women and Guns in America (2006), Game Face (2001), Pregnant Pictures (2000), Gun Women (2000), Real Knockouts (1997), Bombensicher: Atomic Photographers Guild (1991), and A Different War: Vietnam in Art (1990). Floyd’s first book, She’s Got a Gun, is a visual history of women and guns in America, 1850 to the present (Temple University Press, 2008).

Floyd has an MA from Columbia College in Chicago and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. She was raised in League City, Texas and now makes her home in Atlanta, Georgia.
In kindergarten, my teacher asked what we wanted to be when we grew up. Asking American children, whose understanding of the world is generally limited to two places: earth (where they currently live) and the land of Disney (where they will live as soon as they escape their parent’s clutches), brings on a range of responses, depending on family background, gender, and the generation to which this question is posed. I thought of three choices: Medieval Knight, Mom, or Actress. I knew Knighthood was probably not possible, but traveling the countryside on horseback and keeping the Princess safe from bad guys sounded like fun. I already knew the role of Mom: she worked a day job and in the evening prepared food for six kids and a husband. TV Moms were no different, although they lived in tree-lined suburbs and didn’t work outside the home. Actresses could play Moms but they also traveled the world, went to big parties, and they lived in houses that they owned, not rented. Not surprisingly, at six years of age, I chose Actress.

Fortunately, I had a few years to reflect on my options and to face reality—I’m a lousy actress. I came of age in the 1970s, influenced by the Vietnam War, feminism, civil rights, and social activism. I was a feminist by the time I hit high school. In college I studied with feminist scholars, artists and activists, and their teachings have had a direct impact on my way of working.

Whether I’m making images of my own aging body or representing the experiences of gun women, my work is about telling my own stories or attempting to represent someone else’s experience or point-of-view. For me, feminist practice means being respectful to my subjects while staying true to my understanding of human behavior as uniquely complicated and wonderful, full of contradictions, and constantly in need of critique because of bad ideas, deeds, and decisions.

I’m still a consumer of pop culture that reinforces gender stereotypes, and corporate entertainment will always be limited in its representations of women. However, because of feminism’s influence on American society and culture, today’s six-year-old has more choices, and girls see the potential to enter into careers that had previously been closed to them. Except for Knighthood, which is still closed. But it doesn’t matter. We all know that today’s Princesses will save themselves. Don’t we? Won’t they?

View Nancy Floyd's CV (PDF)

Sandy Fong, second place. The WomenThe WomenA1C Ashley-Ann Cady with M24 (Remington 700 bolt action rifle), Moody Air Force Base, GeorgiaOfficer Audrey Jenkins with 9mm Smith & Wesson, model 5903, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GeorgiaMaggie C. Brown in her garden with her Remington Single Shot .22, Farmington, GeorgiaSharp Shooter Karen Bowker with Smith & Wesson Model 41, Santa Ana, CaliforniaClair Sherwood with her Guns and her Grandmother

Weathering Time

Atlanta, Georgia


Text, images, audio, and/or video in the Feminist Art Base are copyrighted by the contributing artists unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.