Nancy Grace Horton: Ms. Behavior

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PROJECT STATEMENT

My photographs are investigations of female gender roles as influenced by American culture and mass media. My work is a 21st century extension of feminist concerns regarding the media’s portrayal of women. More specifically, I am interested in the explicit and implicit power relations that are constructed and maintained by systems of media representation.   Using narrative fragments that confound the conventions of popular culture, I explore the norms of female behavior—and misbehavior. I am inspired by cinema, TV, magazines and personal experiences. My creative process is planned but unscripted. It is exploratory but with firm goals and boundaries. Props, models, (who are often friends, or myself) and locations act as catalysts for the development of strong, graphic compositions that suggest fragments of an untold story.   Ideas come to me from varying directions: an article of clothing, a location, a gender-assigned object. A conversation or an experience may trigger a visual concept that begins the construction in my mind. This initiates my thinking about how to express the idea in a photograph. Before and during shooting I discuss the concepts with my models. They contribute to my process by understanding and playing off what I have set out to achieve. A powerful aspect of my process is the room I allow for the unknown, the moments when the unexpected happens during the shoot, creating and adding to the punctum of the images.   My process is that of a traditional photographer. I use film, a light meter, aperture, and shutter speed. I always crop in the camera, and I stress color and composition. I use analog processes to capture the image, then the digital darkroom, scanning and printing my final work. I strive for minimal post-production to make as straight a print from the negative as possible. I also use photography to create sculptures and hand made books. Many of my concepts become short videos based on my photographic work.   I intend my work to confront the viewer with their hidden preconceptions regarding women’s constructed roles within media and society. My goal is to provoke reactions and stimulate conversations about gender in our culture.

ARTIST BIO

A photojournalist at heart, Horton makes conceptual narrative photographs as a way to tell stories and comment on the culture she lives in. This year you can see her work at the Newport Art Museum in Rhode Island as part of their permanent collection in the Summertime Salon, at the Robin Rice Gallery in New York City, at the Danforth Art Museum, in Massachusetts in a show called Dressed, and in a solo exhibition at the University of New England called Dress Codes that was a collaboration with the students and for which she was granted a two week residency from the Turkey Land Cove Foundation in 2019. This summer her Ms. Behavior series will be featured on The FENCE in Boston. Her work is represented by the Jessica Hagen Gallery in Newport, Rhode Island.   She started her career in photography as a stringer for newspapers, including the Boston Globe, and worked as a documentary photographer for performance venues. She now divides her time between photo-based art making work that is exhibited, and teaching as a resident artist in on-line college courses in photography, including portfolio development, history, and business. She has recently been nominated for a Ragdale Residency in 2020.   One project has led her to another project: Mad Women narrating a female character in the time of the 50s, Ms. Behavior, bending the perceptions of women-hood, and MrMrs the male, experiencing life as a woman and the intersection of feminine and masculine. This had lead to conversations about dress and dress codes, and she is currently researching and collaborating with University of New England students, recording video interviews about dress, and setting up simple, yet profound art-making with paper dolls that will become part of an interactive installation opening in the Fall of 2019, and she will travel from there.   During her many trips to Mexico, she has conducted her Learning to See photo projects with village children, exhibiting and creating a book of their work. She continues to shoot there, working on a long term project. This work has been supported by the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Cyanotypes on fabric with seaweed are current works in progress and her eyes are set on returning to Mexico in 2020 where the sun shines bright for cyanotypes. She will continue working with the village children of Mayto and find her way to the Muxe of Mexico where gender work is leading her interests.  

www.nancygracehorton.com @nancygracehorton

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