Purchase College professor emerita Nancy Davidson is among 178 scholars, artists, and scientists awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2014.
Davidson, who taught in the School of Art+Design at Purchase College from 1984 to 2008, is an interdisciplinary artist who works primarily in sculpture and installation. She is known for her inflatable sculptures that wittily explore American iconic imagery and gender issues through abstract forms that suggest sensuous female figures.
In 1992, she began to refocus her work, “Using inflated weather balloons to challenge the notions of contemporary monumental sculpture while simultaneously repurposing comedic tropes of bodily mass, fleshiness and beauty,” according to her biographical statement.
Davidson’s opening night at the Robert Miller Gallery in 2001 fell on 9/11. She watched the World Trade Center towers fall from her studio window, which triggered a new body of work. Thinking about her past and personal mythology, she drew upon her memories of the cowgirl character prevalent in the 1950s. “What began as a childhood attraction to this archetypal American figure became an irreverent reinvention, celebrating and critiquing popular culture, comic humor, and our society’s fascination with the overblown and oversized,” her statement says.
The resulting exhibition, Dustup, was exhibited at the Betty Cuningham Gallery, New York, in the fall of 2012 and an expanded version was exhibited at the Boca Museum of Art in Boca Raton, FL in 2013. Davidson is currently working on a book project Cowgirl: Nancy Davidson to be distributed by DAP Publishers.
In addition to the Guggenheim Fellowship, Davidson’s honors include grants from the NEA; Anonymous Was a Woman Award; Pollock-Krasner Foundation; and Creative Capital.
In its ninetieth annual competition for the United States and Canada, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has awarded 177 Fellowships (including one joint Fellowship) to a diverse group of 178 scholars, artists, and scientists. Often characterized as “midcareer” awards, Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for men and women who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or creative ability in the arts. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and extraordinary promise, the successful candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants.
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