Nancy Scheinman’s use of acid washes on sheets of copper suggest an alchemist’s approach, producing shapes and textures out of which narratives emerge.
Fusing beauty, meditation and personal experience, Nancy Scheinman creates thought provoking paintings. Layering is fundamental to her work, with patterns — printed, painted and incised. She layers time. Like medieval artists she boxes a related sub-text of narratives within the space of the main image. Physically her pieces are interwoven with her own chronology, collaging parts of earlier images, etchings and drawings to the new.
Scheinman’s use of acid washes on sheets of copper suggest an alchemist’s approach, producing shapes and textures out of which narratives emerge. Copper, canvas, bronze wire cloth and etched clear vinyl are nailed onto a wooden structure and painted. Her complex mixed media collages find an interconnection of past and future. Their obsessive embellishment lends them a gorgeous power and vibrant energy.
As in religious art, the spiritual is made visual, as real events and emotional conditions are simultaneously projected onto the landscape. Her mixed media pieces, with their hybrid of the mundane and fantastical, laundry in the wind and erupting plant forms imbue her scenes with mystery and spirituality. Scheinman leaves the narrative in these works ambiguous and enigmatic.
Scheinman comments in her artist statement, “Due to the nature of the materials used, the images rely somewhat on an element of chance…. the paintings emerge in an intuitive manner.” The viewer should keep in mind that the instincts of the artist often display greater coherence and logic that exceeds afterthoughts. An art historian, Ernst Grombrich noted in his essay entitled, “Aims and Limits of Iconography,” that: “In looking at a work of art we will always project some additional significance that is not actually given,” adding: “Art is always open to afterthoughts, and if they happen to fit we can never tell how far they were part of the original intention.”
Martin Johnson Heade and Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot come to mind as artists who share Scheinman’s ability to create works in which unabashed beauty, delicacy and hope combine. The strength of Scheinman’s work lies in the balance and tension between the highly rendered natural images and the improvisational nature of the baroquely textured surfaces. Her meditative works add a lyrical note to the rich heritage of American landscape painting.