Nancy MacKenzie has always drawn, painted, and constructed things, but fiber art, except for weaving, was unknown to her in her college days. When she took her first surface design workshop in 1983, she began to see new possibilities for working with cloth which could become art whether on the body, on the table, or on the wall. In 1984, she took a workshop in roketsu-zome (wax and dye in Japanese) and was hooked on combining painting with garment construction. She began to sell her scarves and garments, and to identify herself as a fiber artist.
Starting in 1994 when she was able to devote full time to her art, she began to make wearable art that projected social commentary and was more concerned with message than utility. Experimenting with only marginally wearable materials such as barbed wire and bailing twine led her away from the concept of a garment and its relationship to a person's movements and onto the wall. Constructing three dimensional wall pieces opened up new avenues of aesthetics, technical challenges and experimentation for her. However, since her initial idea grew and changed in the process of construction, what began as something wearable frequently metamorphoses into a wall piece and vice versa.
Nancy's recent work includes wall pieces as well as wearable items that have become increasingly sculptural. The bailing twine that she collects from neighbors' fence posts serves her delight in scavenging and recycling. When it is sewn into channels, it stiffens soft fabrics and encourages sculptural manipulation. It invites combination with her hand dyed textiles as well as selections from her hoard of commercial fibers and found objects such as recycled plastic nettings, wine corks, pyrometric cones, plastic industrial tubing, coffee filters, and twigs, etc. She enjoys the challenge of improving her techniques to solve the engineering and aesthetic problems that emerge in the process of construction.
Gallery gen, New York, NY
Minnesota Museum of Art, St. Paul, MN
Museum of Craft and Folk Art, San Francisco, CA
Northern Clay Center, Minneapolis, MN
Palos Verdes Art Center, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Plains Art Museum, Fargo, ND
Rochester Art Center, Rochester, MN
Textile Center, Minneapolis, MN
Goldstein Museum of Design, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN,
Issey Miyake, Tokyo, Japan
Contemporary Crafts Collection, Minnesota Historical Society Center, St. Paul, MN