Nancy Rich Photography – Art Afloat

Nancy Rich Photography – Art Afloat

What you’re saying

  • Gorgeous silk scarves! Plus the gallery is phenomenal! Olga B.
Photographer Nancy Rich

My passion for photography took hold over 50 years ago while on a second-grade field trip to the Bronx Zoo. At that young age, I was fortunate to own a Brownie camera and have easy access to developing film at my father’s drug store. While most aspects of my life at that time were out of my control, I found it powerful and magical to be able to create a record of my life’s special moments.

Photograph of wooden boat by Nancy Rich

My interest in small boats began in the summer of 2000 when I was taking a photography class at the Maine Photographic Workshops in Rockport. I attended classes there for three summers focusing my efforts on capturing images of the small boats that dotted the waters in and around Rockport. Wooden boats intrigued me most. I saw in each a distinct and beautiful character revealed through the scars, peeling paint, and worn surfaces.

Photograph of wooden boat by Nancy Rich

Sadly, small wooden boats are now difficult to find, in large part because they are expensive to build, buy, and maintain, and their constant exposure to salt water and sun eventually breaks them down.

Photograph of dinghies by Nancy Rich

Once ubiquitous along the northeast coastline, small wooden boats are being replaced by boats made of durable and significantly less-expensive materials, such as aluminum, rubber, plastic, and fiberglass. To help preserve their memory, I sought the dinghies, prams, and tenders that serve as both pleasure boats and workboats ferrying lobstermen and women to and from their larger craft moored offshore.

Photograph of small wooden boat by Nancy Rich

In the fall of 2009, I was very fortunate when Sheridan House published Afloat on the Tide, a 208-page book of my wooden boat photographs. It serves as a historic record of these special boats. The magic and power of photography endure.

Photograph of seaweed by Nancy Rich

With wooden boats becoming more and more elusive and Afloat on the Tide in print, I became excited about photographing other subjects. I made a transition to shooting the beautiful and eye-catching shells and plant life that I had collected during my years walking along the shoreline.

photograph of oyster shells by Nancy Rich

This change in subject led to a focus away from landscape-type photography to a fascination with macro photography, taking images up close to the subject, at times 1-2 inches from it. I titled this new collection “Glass and Ice Capades.”  It includes photographs of objects floating or frozen in liquid or ice.

photograph of rose petals by Nancy Rich

Now that I have retired from my professional life as an educator and administrator, I have time to devote to sharing my love of wooden boats and my photography. The Clever Hand has given me a steady platform for showing my work, and I enjoy speaking before community groups. I was recently honored to have a solo exhibit, titled “Afloat,” in the Class of 1925 Gallery at my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Nancy Rich at University of Wisconsin Class of 1925 Gallery

Snatches of Memory by Nan Burke

Snatches of Memory by Nan Burke

What you’re saying

  • Gorgeous silk scarves! Plus the gallery is phenomenal! Olga B.
Nan Burke at work on glass landscapes

When I think of favorite places, I have snatches of memory to choose from: a sunset at a beach, several trees up on a ridge with a tinge of fall color, a mountain stream. As an artist, I abstract key elements, recreating and reinterpreting them in glass.

Details of two glass landscapes

When viewers see my landscapes, they invariably speak of how it reminds them of their own special memories of vacation spots, backyards, or a beloved getaway.  The landscapes have a sense of place, but the exact place depends on the viewer. With memory comes mood.  I aim for my work to be both serene and uplifting.  My trees in the falling snow are not firmly rooted; rather they “dance” in the moonlight.

I have choices of how I might depict my subject.  Do I want to construct a piece that depicts an actual place that is identifiable by those who know it?  Or do I want to abstract it so that more people relate to its composition? Generally, I go for the more abstract, minimalist approach to landscapes.

In an earlier career I studied human cognition and perception.  I learned that how people see and remember things is not at all photographic, but is actually very conceptual.  Objects are recognized by a few distinctive features or spatial relationships. These I abstract.

 


With my torch, I pull out strings of glass to ripple or bend as I like, and set them down on the base glass as trees, waves, or the crest of a hill.  I use crushed glass called frit for leaves, and larger grades of crushed glass as rocks and even stone walls. For the sun or moon, I use dichroic glass that shifts in color depending on how the light hits it.  For hills, I prefer a green “swoosh” with an upward bend, beckoning the viewer to climb up and join the trees there in memory.