Nancy Selvage. Boston Sculptors Gallery, 2012
excerpt of review by Marty Carlock, Sculpture Magazine.
Unlike the color theorists behind two-dimensional Op Art, Selvage works in black and white, but her visual tricks are even more dynamic. With carefully calculated spacing, she layers screening to create moiré effects. Shifting perspectives reveal illusive,
and elusive, ephemeral motifs. As the viewer changes location (or as the mobile moves), patterns shift and segue into bull's-eyes, ripples, polka dots, pinstripes, tweed patterns, tiny soccer balls, or rows of stars. LED lights, carefully position within most of the pieces, are themselves visually fragmented by screening.
Two outsized works dominated Selvage's recent show. "Navigration" (not a typo - it's meant to suggest he unexplained navigational abilities of migrating creatures) is a thunderous wall piece, perhaps a whale, perhaps a bird, intensely subtle and throbbing with variations.
excerpt from article, Decoding Art in Science
by Anne Krinsky
in Art New England
, February/March 2010
Another artist who bridges the worlds of art and science is Nancy Selvage...
Her permanent public art commissions include collaboratively made, interpretive ceramic reliefs at Grand Canyon National Park, the North Carolina Zoo, and the Science Center at Keene State University in New Hampshire. Each conveys a wealth of scientific or environmental information about the site itself. Flow, a sixty-foot-long ceramic mural, was modeled on the shape of the Ashuelot River, which intersects the Keene State campus. Contained within its borders are references to the range of scientific studies at the college. By contrast, Water Wall (2007), permanently sited at Trolley Square in Cambridge, MA, and bi op see-shown at the Boston Sculptors Gallery in late 2009-are among Selvage's ambitious "investigative" works, in which she aims to "transform the physical properties of space."
The sweeping metal arcs of bi op see were designed on a computer, using Adobe Illustrator, a two-dimensional program, and Autodesk Maya, a three-dimensional program, and then cut with a water-jet machine. The nine-foot-high, twenty-two-foot-long, five-foot-wide piece was assembled and bolted together in the gallery's large front room. The two curvaceous planes of perforated sheet metal that make up bi op see were held together-and penetrated-by tubular shafts, which framed views through the piece. A few of these cylindrical cores also housed ceramic or resin forms, suggestive of cellular material or soft tissue viewed through a microscope. The subtle use of anodized paint, mirrors, and patterned perforations in the aluminum, created shifting interactions of light, moiré patterns, and mirrored reflections. The permeable membrane of the sheet metal dematerialized in daylight, with the sun streaming through, and took on more solidity at night. Each unique view of and through bi op see focused the viewer's gaze on its sculpted details and the complex patterns of light and shadow it created, as well as on the gallery space, its occupants, and the street beyond.
excerpt from review by Cate McQuaid, Boston Globe
, Thursday, May 3, 2007
Nancy Selvage mixes up actual, suggested, and symbolic content in her works, at Boston Sculptors. Her sculptures "Evidence" and "Constellation" are compelling and satisfyingly mysterious. "Evidence" is a skewed stack of blocks, "Constellation" takes the shape of a prone woman. Each contains deep, mirrored holes you peer into. Inside are kaleidoscopic paintings or small sculptures. The mirrors contort the view. These works are treasure hunts, with each compartment holding a metaphoric clue, leading each viewer down his or her own deductive path.
excerpts from review by Cate McQuaid, Boston Globe
July 26, 2007
Exploring more than landscapes
Exhibits reveal artists' views of history, war, politics, and nature
Landscapes evoke the natural world, but they are also a lens through which to view history, politics, and even one's own psyche. Several landscapes on exhibit now offer a variety of perspectives, from the intimate to the political...
"This Is About Us," produced in association with the Massachusetts Audubon Society, two area artists, painter Kathleen Cammarata and ceramicist Nancy Selvage, use landscape to comment on the state of the world...
Selvage is more pointed. She makes vessels in the shapes of maps. On one side of "Fertile Crescent (Iraq; 2003)" she traces the waterways of the Tigris and the Euphrates. On the other side, the glaze is smoky, and from the smoke emerge the forms of soldiers atop a tank. A spout appears to pour glistening black-gold oil into a puddle beside the map. Map vessels are a clever conceit; places hold meaning for us, which Selvage spins into convincing arguments.
excerpt by Diane Karp, Director of the Santa Fe Art Institute
from her introduction to a September 2003 lecture by Nancy Selvage in conjunction with Uncommon Ground
, a series of workshops and lectures which explored the power of place and its role in defining culture and identity,
The map is a two dimensional representation of a three dimensional world, and these vessels serve to close the circle, bringing the two dimensional map back in the third dimension. Each vessel evolves from an experience and connection with a specific place, so that site, material, cultural implications, social/environmental factors and form are aspects of the object. The object has become the repository and representation of the place.
, Keene State College Mural.
excerpt from article by Scott Ruescher. Art and Perception
. #63, Spring 2006.
Selvage designed an aerial image of the river in a computer-graphics program and then set about festooning the serpentine shape with images from the physical, mathematical and computer sciences taught in the new building. Piece by piece, she began to make a glossy colourful water surface come alive with magnified images of the life below the visible surface of the natural world, going through several draughts the flow took on more and more information. ...It was an extraordinarily complex task...with the meandering of the river calling for excruciatingly exact measurement and the gradual colour-spectrum shift calling for seamless transitions in the tone of the glaze.
. 1990. Installation at Helen Day Art Center, Stowe, Vermont.
excerpt from review by Sarah Seidman, Art New England
. Boston. November 1990
Moving from light to darkness around the central unifying circle, there is a quiet and yet disquieting sense of time passing, of each object's immobility and yet the mobility of the self within the created structure. Just as Adam and Eve symbolize the exile from Eden into a world of time and death, the viewer's exit from this timed and timeless room becomes an almost shocking return to the known world. Selvage said her work attempts "to make visible the state of being poised at the edge of this world and the unknown". Just as Einstein expanded the universe with the theory of relativity, Selvage's "E=mc2" is a mesmerizing example of how installation art can extend the definition of art.
. 1984. Helen Shlien Gallery, Boston, MA.
excerpt from review by Nancy Stapen, The Boston Herald
. Boston. August 12, 1984.
Nancy Selvage has transformed the square Helen Shlien Gallery into a topsy- turvy world of spatial disorientation. Down feels like up, solid feels airy, across teeters towards above... Although these spatial distortions should produce confusion and disorder, the opposite occurs. This is where this work's greatest strength lies, for instead of turmoil, it stimulates the serenity of psychic clarity. The room attains the meditative calm of a chapel, with the well as its hopeful alterpiece...
. 1983. Graduate School of Design. Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
excerpt from review by David Bonetti, Art New England
. Boston. June 1983
Her untitled work is a dream space of unexpected perspectives, of vistas that continue through solid walls, of portals that open to nothing, of promenades that lead nowhere... ...the viewer's expectations are confounded. It is necessary to test one's step, to feel if the glass wall is there or is not (it isn't), to measure distances, to experience one's perceptions. When one learns what is happening there's delight, exhilaration.
. 1982. Installation at Danforth Museum, Framingham, MA
excerpt from review by Gary Garrels, Art New England
. Boston. October 1982.
Selvage has succeeded in transforming what must have been a rather bland and homely gallery space into a poetic and complex environment... One cannot proceed without questioning and measuring comprehension and response... Volume and surface are ambiguous. The mind is pushed to clarify physical situations that in some cases can be resolved only by touch or its absence. A decoding of physical construction, however, opens up apprehension of light and shadow that in some cases are as evident as the materials themselves. Not only the house but the viewer as well is transformed to a ghost as planes are crossed without regard to their seeming substantiality... Rich in formal and metaphorical complexity, Selvage's work is a provocative goad to a reexamination of experience.
. 198l. Helen Shlien Gallery, Boston, MA.
excerpt from review by Kenneth Baker, The Boston Phoenix
. October 6, 1981.
The critic's problem with Selvage's piece is in describing it. A complex network of mirrors, doorways, screens, and opaque and translucent panels, the installation is so complex visually that you have to spend some time even to be sure you've seen it all. What at first looks like a solid surface may reveal itself to be a reflection.... There is a powerful architectural aspect, but the work is more engaging than any architecture I can think of...
excerpt from review by David Joselit, New Art Examiner
. November 1981.
Substantive architectural elements were divided into veil-like layers, as thin and well- fitting as successive skins of an onion. The space was sensuous: it felt less like architecture that the inside of a warm body. Selvage "humanizes" the architectural elements of the home by creating the atmosphere of the body - the house as body...
. 1979. Helen Shlien Gallery, Boston, MA.
excerpt from review by Kyra Montagu, Art New England
. Boston. January 1980.
In a continuing play on fact and metaphor, reminiscent of the literary manoeuvres of Borges, Selvage involved us with her subject, but we had to proceed through the exhibition without a foregone conclusion. Until actually experiencing it fully, there was no way to know all its ramifications... The installation was a surreal and magical world where the boundaries continually receded ahead of one... It became imperative to analyze what was happening to be sure one comprehended each nuance... Selvage managed to develop great complexity with almost nothing extraneous... I think this was one of the most convincing instances of real "art" I have seen in a long time.
excerpt from review by Lois Tarlow, Art New England
. Boston. February 1981.
She... creates magic spaces out of door frames and mirrors... For her there are no fixed boundaries between the functional and the aesthetic; rather they challenge, exploit, and reinforce each other.