“There are times when I feel strong, hopeful and fresh as a daisy and at times strange, undesired, flawed, my emotions know no depths, when swinging from one extreme to the other…”
This is a story of an artist who dives deep into the emotional state of a woman, crafts it impeccably in a clay sculpture and preserves it for life. Her creations portray a woman’s continuous struggle to balance herself in a variety of roles she is expected to play. Emanating from minute observances, her creations are a perfect blend of – Strength, Compassion and Endurance.
Her name is Nancy Pirri and she is a part of my “Real Life Heroes” series.
I met her two years back over Skype and clicked instantly, little did I know that we share the same roots. Born in Brooklyn, New York, free spirited and naturally-driven Nancy admits – her choices have been easy to stand by, following a path that makes her happy. She draws inspiration from a woman’s inner beauty and transforms it into an art form.
Q1. Take us through your journey as an artist? How has your creative bend helped you evolve as a person?
As a Creative-Type, it has helped me evolve in many ways. I am more confident, as a human and as a woman; it helps me get through rough times, as I am able to depict my emotions through my hands. I’ve even depicted my migraines in a piece titled “Athena,” as nails protrude from her head to stop the excruciating pain. Being creative, my entire life has been a blessing especially because I have a passion where most don’t. I would sneak away to my room to draw for hours, and to this day, art makes time stand still. Being an artist with creative ideas allows me to think differently. I look at everything with an artist’s eye…taking walks, I search for that ‘great find.’ It could be an odd-shaped rock, a webbed fallen leaf, or a rusty bolt under the el tracks. Being creative allows me to breathe easier and experience life at its fullest. Life for me without art is meaningless.
Q2. Why did you specifically choose – A woman and her complex role in the society as the core subject of your art form?
It’s really a shame Hillary didn’t become our President. I think, it would have made more sense that women should be running this country. Look what we are capable of! We are mothers, lovers, sisters, friends, or wives – where our arguably weaker sex is called upon continually to put others before ourselves. Add to that, societal roles calling for poise and grace…always having to ‘keep it together’ for fear, we are seen as unstable. It’s a struggle for women around the world. I depict this emotional imbalance by capturing it with gestures, a tilt of the head, textures, and attitude. I tell this story through my hands, urging the viewers to see inside her and connect as if they were the woman in clay.
Q3. Ain’t I a Woman? One of your best creations throws spotlight on gender differences. How much, according to you, does gender influence the art world?
‘Ain’t I a Woman?’ is the title of a speech Sojourner Truth wrote: “I am a woman’s rights. I have as much muscle as any man, and can do as much work as any man.” – Sojourner Truth (1851). I depicted this attitude with a tattoo on her face to reveal her strength as an African American woman in a world of men. Gender inequality is everywhere. We are even told we can’t paint! Personally, I have not been too affected by gender inequality, but I do usually exhibit with all female artists, usually wondering where all the men are?
Fact: Of all artists represented by galleries in the United States today, just 30 percent are female (according to the stats from Micol Hebron‘s “Gallery Tally” project).
Q4. All of your creations don unique patterns on their face and head, what does that signify?
I always look for ways to enhance a women’s beauty. By adding patterns which are hand stamped into the clay, I invite depth and complexity, and then, a personality is revealed. A splash of color or a tattoo enhances a connection between the observer and the piece, urging them to touch the work and wonder what they are thinking.
Q5. Project – Angels for Peace was inspired by a real life incident, would you like to share with us?
Creating ‘Angels for Peace’ was a lovely experience for me. In November, 2016, I started on one angel, a very small one for an upcoming Holiday show. I got a call from a long-time friend and a strong believer in God, in need of consoling. She said to me – she didn’t believe in Him these days as her close girlfriend was sick and dying. After consoling her, I suggested retail therapy. [Now at Marshalls] A woman started a conversation with her, took one look at my friend and said “Everything is going to be okay,” placing her hand on her shoulder and reached out with her information as she is a holistic physician. I said to her, “See! An angel came to help you believe in Him again.” She screamed ‘I need an angel!’ And, the Angel Project began. She then proceeded to get me another order. I sold 24. These angels have become a symbol of protection, hope, and peace for people. The series is called “The Language of Wings” – Broken (sad); Hugging (compassion, empathy); and Flight (confidence).
Q6. What’s coming up next up for you?
I am currently showcasing @ Groshek Gallery in Chicago, IL for the month of April, 2017.
May 5th is the Nasty Women exhibition with 100% proceeds to Planned Parenthood and May-August, 2017 is “Clay, Body” @ Circle Line Gallery at the Bridgeport Arts Center in Chicago. This September, I will be collaborating with my photographer Doug Birkenheuer – with his photos of my work next to my piece. Invitations for shows are coming to me vs. the other way around and I am ecstatic that the art world is finding me vs. searching for shows.
(These journeys have been personally shared with me by our ‘Heroes’)
Know more about ‘Our Hero’ – Nancy Pirri @
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