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Check out Nancy Jo Haselbacher’s Artwork

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nancy Jo Haselbacher.

Nancy Jo, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
Instead of buying a car when I got out of college I bought an etching press and rented a little studio to make prints. I fell in love with printmaking after taking a few classes in it and while working and teaching as a graphic designer and illustrator in Boston I honed my craft as a printmaker. I really loved teaching so I thought – “how great would it be if I could teach printmaking instead?” I knew I would need my M.F.A to shift to other teaching jobs, but I also needed a change of pace so I accepted a job in LA as a Creative Director in the corporate world to save money for school. Eventually I moved back to the east coast to go to grad school at RISD and then returned to the west coast to live. I guess you could say I have large chunks of time where I have been nomadic and that probably informs my work now.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?

Einstein said “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious…” and I’d say that’s a guiding philosophy in my work. I want people to have a chance to slow down and experience artwork that provokes them. Artwork that reveals a new way of looking at something familiar. A discovery.

There is a strange alchemy that happens in printmaking. You think you know what your piece is going to look like as you lay it down on the press but there is always some kind of magic that happens underneath the roller or through the silkscreen and it’s never quite what you thought. I love that.

Currently my body of work is about representing traces of presence in both land and body in motion. For example, in my ongoing installation, “Borrowed: Mystery, Romance and Knowledge”, I record and print the traces left behind by readers in library books and how uncannily they turn out to be very similar depending on the genre. In another work, “Corporeal Botanica”, I photograph my shadow while walking and insert the flora of the land into of my images of shadow. I grew up in a tiny rural New England town very connected to nature and the seasons. Since then, I’ve lived in big cities and I constantly feel the pull between the two. One of the reasons I love LA is that it has such intense natural and urban elements within easy reach.

I’m on sabbatical this semester from teaching at Otis College of Art and Design and that affords me more time to be in the studio working on my own art. Media-wise, I work a lot with printmaking, and photography. Most of my work is in series or large installations of multiple works like prints, drawings, sculptures, or photos that all relate to each other.

Have things improved for artists? What should cities do to empower artists?

I think it’s a bit of both. On one hand, I do have concerns about arts funding in the U.S. which has been minimal compared to other countries and is now being further affected by our political climate. Cities can continue to support artists with funding for small and large projects through organizations like the Center for Cultural Innovation here in LA, and to rethink the casual expulsion of artists in neighborhoods undergoing gentrification.
As a printmaker, I am used to working within a community; it is the nature of the practice. We all help each other move forward and I think this is one of the most important things a city can do is help to foster that type of engagement.

And yet, we’re also seeing some very interesting museum and gallery reconfigurations popping up in LA and we have the entire world at our fingertips for connection and inspiration.

In terms of building a career as artist, I think social media has leveled the playing field a bit by providing a promotional platform free from the constraints of the gallery system which historically was one of the only ways an artist’s work could to be showcased and a career nurtured.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
This spring I’m showing a piece called “Drought Runes”, an interactive set of divinatory runes I made based on dry cracks in the earth in southern California in “Air, Water, Earth” at The Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton CA. It is always a great support when people come to see my work in person either in shows or studio visits. I occasionally do workshops and lectures, and I also have a very active Instagram account and website.

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Image Credit:
Nancy Jo Haselbacher

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