Born in New York, NY, Nancy Newman Rice, earned her BFA and MFA from Washington University, in St. Louis, MO. She is presently Director of Art and Design Programs at Maryville University in St. Louis. Her work was featured in numerous exhibitions including the Currents Exhibition Series at the St. Louis Art Museum in 1979.
Reflections. Paintings by Nancy Newman Rice Exhibition encompasses the full breadth of this artist's remarkable achievement, while capturing her practice of working simultaneously in diverse mediums.
Nancy Newman Rice's use of small dots of paint meticulously applied has caused some critics to associate her work with Seurat's and Signac's Neo-Impressionism. The intent of those artists was to express light in a rational manner, by applying small dots of pure hues. According to Michel Eugène Chevreul ("On the Law of the Simultaneous Contrast of Colors," 1839) and Nicholas Odgen Rood ("Modern Chromatics," 1879) the dots would mix optically to preserve the color intensity lost in subtractive mixtures.
Newman Rice's intentions have an added dimension. Her approach to layer dots while shaping the subject with no defining lines, slows down the process of perception and creates the illusion that everything occurs at a slower pace, almost like in a dream. In today's fast paced life this seems to be an invitation to introspection.
The major theme of Newman Rice's art is the inability of humans to control fate. The exhibition starts with Icarus on the Ledge. Here the majestic views of the American wilderness question the philosophical view of the Manifest Destiny. Thomas Cole was celebrating the American wilderness in heroic pictures. In Dark Canyon Newman Rice senses that the American wilderness is threatened by commercial and political interests and she employs close ups of rocks and water as a coping mechanism. The extremely rough visual texture in Santorini Rocks is balanced by the smooth surface of Water, Water and Pebbles, Cool Water, and Abstract Ocean.
In the following series of paintings, Entrance, Green Trees, Tree Cathedral, Stained Glass Tree, Green Swamp, and Sentinel the artist sets herself the task of making a record of the wilderness before it is too late, a very powerful statement delivered in a subdued poetic manner. The forest and water paintings are permeated by divine power reminiscent of the northern landscape tradition of Caspar David Friedrich.
The third group is characterized by fragmentation, a phenomenon which emphasizes the passage of time and a complete past existence. The fragments are re-contextualized through juxtapositions and become subjective realities often in the style of cinematic montage in the manner of Alain Resnais.
The fourth group of paintings, oil on treated paper, resemble medieval illuminated manuscripts with intricate decorative designs surrounding the narrative. The designs are of oriental rugs point directly to the geographic area to which the events make reference. The saints that have been appropriated from medieval manuscripts are placed in the context of September 11, or the Palestinian Struggle. Icarus Contemplates Flight and Icarus' Mother Grives refer to the artist's personal suffering which connects her to humanity.
Through her unique brand of imagery, Nancy Newman Rice has addressed modern issues and current events, and voiced concern over the social, political, economic, and environmental fate of the planet.