Nancy Friedemann-Sánchez is a Colombo-American, mid-career artist with an interdisciplinary practice. She grew up in Colombia as the child of a Colombian and a United States citizen and migrated to the US as an adult. Her art is about the curious and intense experience of having physically migrated, yet still having a piece of herself rooted in Colombia. She is creating an intersectional feminist visual novel that is a multifaceted project comprised of paintings, sculptures, objects, and mixed media that together—and in different voices—weave a synchronicity of dialogues, passages, and punctuations about hybridity and cultural ownership.
She is in the Elisabeth Sackler Feminist Art Base at the Brooklyn Museum; she participated at the 20 Congreso Internacional: La Experiencia Intelectual de las Mujeres en el Siglo XXI in 2012 in Mexico City. Shows include Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, The Nerman Museum of Art, Miami Museum of Contemporary Art, Blue Star Contemporary, The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, La Bienal de Cuenca, Ecuador, The Sheldon Museum of Art, The Joslyn Art Museum, The Portland Museum; El Museo del Barrio and Bronx Museum of the Arts.
She was awarded the Doctorow Prize in Painting, a Nebraska Arts Council Grant, a Smithsonian Artist Fellowship; a Puffin grant; a Pollock Krasner grant; a NALAC grant and was nominated to the Joan Mitchel Foundation grant, the United States Artists Fellowship, the Rema Hort Mann and to the Anonymous was a Woman Foundation. She was a resident at Art OMI, Fountainhead, Tamarind Institute, Yaddo, Gasworks, Bemis Center for Contemporary arts and Bronx Museum for the Arts.
Her work is collected by Karen and Robert Duncan, Jose Mugrabi, The Sheldon Museum, El Museo del Barrio, The Cleveland Museum, The Museum University of New Mexico, El Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Panamá, El Museo de Arte Moderno, Cali Colombia. Her work was reviewed by Hyperallergic, Terremoto, El Nuevo Herald, The New York Times, Artforum; The Paris Review, Time out, Art Paper and Art Nexus.
Together with her husband, artist Charley Friedman, Nancy runs FIENDISH PLOTS. FIENDISH PLOTS is an artist-run initiative and exhibition space organized that hosts interdisciplinary exhibitions, salons, critiques of seasoned artists in Lincoln NE and Brooklyn NY.
Statement 2020 - A Visual Novel: Mestiza Dos Veces
My art is a bi-cultural and trans-cultural experience; it expresses difference, but also combines seemingly disparate elements to represent a new whole. Having grown up in Colombia as a child of a mestiza Colombian and a United States citizen, and having migrated to the U.S. as an adult, I make art in two languages about the curious and intense experience of having migrated. I am physically in my new home in the U.S., but there is a piece of myself rooted in Colombia; a metaphor for my dual citizenship. I create art about the syncretism and hybridization of cultures and individuals using dominant and non-dominant art forms that have taken place since the conquest of the Americas and that get re-enacted in the migration experience.
Currently I am working on chapters of a visual novel that I started in 2011. This project is comprised of paintings, sculptures, objects, and collage that together and in different voices weave a synchronicity of dialogues, passages, punctuations, and silences about hybridity and cultural ownership. It is a multi-narrative novel about cultural memory, migration, and the expression of an overlooked American experience. Using a literary model allows me to create a body of work that breaks with a homogeneity of style and gives me the freedom to create pieces that speak from multiple voices. I have built an ample visual vocabulary that speaks about migration, colonialism, and the representation of collective cultural memory.
Colonization is not about collaboration, it’s about domination and the dissolution of the identity of the colonized. I am interested in making work that works as a bridge to the past and that renders visible the invisible; as our experience of the present largely depends upon our knowledge of the past.
I am also interested in the aspect of reacquiring knowledge by doing research into themes like the 18th century genre of Casta Paintings, which recorded the racial mixing or miscegenation that occurred during the Spanish Colonies. I have created a chapter in reference to this, which re- contextualizes this historic practice of taxonomic recording, into a contemporary body of work that speaks of racial profiling and the legacy of colonialism through time. In my version of Casta Paintings I invited different Latina women to lie down on a piece of paper and pose as if they were crossing a T.S.A. machine in an airport. I traced each woman and created with ink an abstract, ghostly map. The figures were traced various times, and in the process, I considered skin color, racial mixing, and overlapped the same figure over and over. After each drawing was placed on the wall, I found a mask that resembled or referenced race, and placed over it a Spanish Peineta.
I have also researched the practice of Barníz de Pasto, developed through the intermingling of techniques from pre-Columbian art, and Spanish colonial & Asian decorative practices. This research allows me to create and recreate hybrid motifs where an indigenous geometry can sit next to a double-headed Spanish eagle. I have made an entire body of work from re- contextualizing Barníz de Pasto by creating large-scale collages, mimicking the ancient practice, using still-life as my subject matter. I paint, cut and collage flowers from decorative objects—all researched and studied from colonial Barniz de Pasto and Spanish Colonial painting—and place
them side-by-side with drones and images of masculine figures shooting at animals and plants. I use this juxtaposition of contemporary violence and historically sourced still-life and technique to explore a contemporary colonization of culture and the violence inherent in it. By mimicking an ancient technique with contemporary materials, I get to the core of something within the past that speaks to our present. The imposition of one culture on another operates as a form of collage itself. It is not my intention to be an ethnographer, but by observing art as an artist I can depict the visual history of domination, subordination, and cultural erasure of one population upon another and their resulting resistance to those actions. The work invites closer investigation: I am interested in an aesthetic experience of beauty, however very often my work ends up depicting something horrific. As a viewer, you think you are looking at a large vase with flowers, but upon closer examination, it becomes clear that there are animals being shot and a violence is being enacted.
In summation, my work is about the encounters between Europe and the Americas and its continuing effects into the present. By researching historic, Colonial art practices, I aim to recuperate lost knowledge and create art that reflects the past and comments on the present. My intention is to understand the past so that I can understand the present and share that knowledge with the viewer. Receiving a Guggenheim fellowship would allow me to continue to invest in this continued research and in the development of my artistic practice. My work ultimately spans cultures and adds to the contributions of Latina and feminist communities in the United States and Latin America.