Skip Navigation
Elizabeth A.Sackler Center for Feminist Art

Nancy   Worthington

Palm Desert, CA

Nancy Worthington’s artwork is in the permanent collection of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C. in the Arts and Embassies Program of the U.S. Department of State, and she represented the United States in the 18th International Biennial in Sao Paulo, Brazil. In addition to gallery, museum and university exhibits in the United States, Worthington has exhibited extensively in Europe, winning the gold medal for the International Women’s Biennial in Stockholm, Sweden, exhibiting at the Grand Palais in Paris, Oslo, Norway, Venice and in Rome.

Worthington’s activist vision is many times prescient and often challenges the social and political status quo – a risky endeavor for an artist at any time but especially in the current atmosphere of terrorism, fear and uncertainty. That is the context in which her ‘George Dubya’ series’ courageously created from 2000-2004 found itself the focal point in an international censorship episode. Her work drew national and international attention in February 2003, just before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, when “The Crossing” was censored from the Alliance Française in San Francisco. The Sunday New York Times, Le Monde (Paris) and World of Art Magazine carried the story.

Worthington is a forerunner in the creation of political/social art utilizing objects derived from cast off consumerism. Worthington’s art embraces viewer participation – emphasizing that through physical involvement, intellectual and emotional insights are invoked. A vital part of this art is the exposure she gives to the ambiguities, inconsistencies and polarities of the human condition; of social and psychological entrapment. Reasserting her deep commitment to principles of freedom in aesthetic (and political) expression, Ms. Worthington states: “My view is that art can challenge the mind; art can inspire the senses; art can uplift the spirit; and art is, in fact, a record and reflection of civilization(s). All art is a unique visualization coming from a specific mind and heart. I feel a sense of duty to make social observations. My art is something that I must do in order to live in harmony with the world as I perceive it.”

Nancy Worthington was born in Norfolk, Virginia in 1947. She received her B.A. Fine Arts from James Madison University in 1969 and her M.F.A. in Sculpture at Pennsylvania State University in 1972. Nancy broke the “glass ceiling” by being the first woman to graduate from the graduate sculpture department and the first woman to teach sculpture at PSU. l973 she moved to Northern California, where she currently resides at Domaine Joyeux with her life partner, Dr. Judith Fein. In 2013 Nancy and Judith moved Southern California.

Feminist Artist Statement

Beginning in the 1970’s I created sculptures and drawings that were feminist in nature. “The Bell Jar” sculpture (1972) confronts the issue of unwanted motherhood—a grotesque baby doll lies in a bell jar (reference to Sylvia Plath) with a tube for an umbilical cord that looks like a vacuum suction line). I began “Cryptographic Self-Boxes” in 1973 moving to California from the East Coast. I created 14 poems that dealt with aspects of my personal journey, from childhood through adolescence—growing up female in a patriarchal society. I then created drawings as a visual counterpoint to the poems and incorporated both into 14 mixed-media constructions, or self-boxes. “Reich’s Bullyseye”, (1976) depicts the role of rape on both women and men in our society. I am pleased that “Reich’s Bullseye” is in the permanent collection of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. “The Veil of Isis” (1978) represents my expression of the birth, death and rebirth of woman in our culture. The sculpture represents a casket/cradle, incorporating drawings and three-dimensional objects suggesting images of the metamorphosis of rebirth of the female.

The following 1978 interview reflects my thoughts at the time. “I see my work continuing as a reflection of the present realities in our society with their tragic and sometimes comic elements. I’ve always been fascinated with objects and how these can be transformed. Utilitarian objects and children’s toys are directly related to the social, political and emotional states of the society. I take objects out of context, combine, alter and transform them into statements about the human condition so that I am confronting people with real things in a newly assembled form. …I juxtapose the real with the imaginary, the subject with the object, and exterior with interior realities. So my objects become transformed—I take them out of context and they become more real than ever before imagined, concrete and yet illusion.”

I have continued to create social commentary artwork throughout my career. Against the more destructive side of civilization, the arts act as checks and balances. It is important for me to create these art pieces to express my social/political perspective about society, to interpret what it meant to me and to communicate in a way that touches others on an intellectual, emotional and spiritual level. I have always felt a duty to incorporate social commentary content within the framework of my art.

<p>Come Into My Parlor</p>

Come Into My Parlor

sed on the early 19th century poem by Mary Howitt entitled “The Spider and The Fly,” the artwork explores different manifestations of entrapment, flattery, and human behavior. Viewer participation enhances emotional interaction with the artwork.

Come Into My Parlor

sed on the early 19th century poem by Mary Howitt entitled “The Spider and The Fly,” the artwork explores different manifestations of entrapment, flattery, and human behavior. Viewer participation enhances emotional interaction with the artwork.

With All Due Respect To Marilyn Monroe

A tribute to the real Marilyn Monroe-the tragic figure behind the legend.

The Age of Wonder Women!

A dynamic mixed-media artwork on canvas. I was inspired by the emergence and resurgence of female super heroines–on television, in the movies and as Marvel Comics action heroines.

In an age of Post-Feminism, where girls and women don’t have the awareness to understand their own suppression and repression, American Wonder Women Super Heroines emerge from the shadows to inspire young women to reach for and realize their own power and full potential to bring them to their rightful place in the world.

Reich’s Bullseye

A mixed-media wall relief depicting the roles society has imposed on both men and women in the act of rape. “Every social order produces in the masses of its members that structure which it needs to achieve its main aim.”-William Reich

Permanent Collection, National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.

“The Crossing” (detail)

This artwork is a parody on two U.S. presidents named George. George Washington, our first president, and George Dubya Bush, our current president. “The Crossing” is a political satire, based on the famous war painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware, replaced by a cast of characters from the current administration. The sculpture has a nautical theme complete with rubber rats, rope and a large buoy-like object. A light shines on the diorama at the top of the artwork where one can pull the hat on Mr. Potato Head-which makes a foghorn-like sound. It is a comment on the arrogant, yet stupid persona of George Dubya, standing in the boat calling out, “What crossing-where?”

“The Crossing” was censored from the Alliance Française in San Francisco and drew international attention when The Sunday New York Times, Le Monde (Paris) and World of Art Magazine carried the story. Click here to see NY Times article

The Visitors

2015-2016, 43”(h) x 30”(w) x 40”(d), Mixed-media interactive construction.

“The Visitors” is a detailed fantasy, which reflects the interplay between certain groups of religious cult Earthlings, and outer space visitors. “The Visitors” is a complex interactive construction/assemblage. I invite the viewer to put a hand on the entry platform and experience interacting with the artwork.

The Veil of Isis

This sculpture represents the birth, death and rebirth of women in our culture. The main body represents a casket/cradle incorporating drawings and 3D objects suggesting subconscious images of the metamorphosis of rebirth of the female. If the viewer approaches and touches the sculpture, the casket/cradle begins to gently move—reminiscent of the breath of life.

Websites

Contact

PO Box 2558
Sebastopol,
USA

Email

CV

PDF Dowload

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