When first walking up To Nancy Rosen's store-front studio in West Rogers Park, you are met with huge window-sized portraits of neighborhood Jewish boys in their traditional garb: black slacks, white shirts, black or gray coats, and stunning wide brimmed hats. You can tell that this space is one that draws all members of the community in with open arms. Passing through the doors your eyes are immediately overcome with the magnitude of the space and volume of work posted on the walls. Trinkets and supplies smattered in every nook and cranny possible, shrines of family photographs, and flat files full of work made over the past two decades. You feel warm and at home in this space because it is a haven; a creative brain dwelling where Nancy lives and breathes art.
The space itself speaks volumes, but here's a little bit about what Nancy has to say about her art process, life and work.
OB: How long have you been an artist?
NR: I’ve always had a creative outlet ever since I'm five years old. Whether it was bead making, leather tooling, jewelry making, or hand painting textiles on fabric, I’ve always found creating things with your hands to be very meditative and cathartic. I’ve been painting full-time for 23 years now.
OB: What do you find inspiring?
NR: I start with you and then let the games begin.
OB: What materials do you use?
NR: I use oil bars, china markers, conte crayon, and graphite- anything that will stick together.
OB: Where do your paintings start?
NR: My work is figurative. It all starts with a live subject from a class that I take every Tuesday. The work takes shape when I take them back to the studio with me so I can finish them.
OB: Are there narratives present in your work?
NR: No, when I start a painting there’s no plan. It’s all intuitive. Viewers can create their own narratives, I’m just having fun. My only qualifier is that the composition sticks.
OB: When do you know you’re finished with a piece?
NR: When there’s no other mark to be made.
OB: What are some reactions that your work has gotten?
NR: I’ve gotten some strange reactions from men, but I don’t really give a shit about what people think. I just paint because I have to.
OB: Describe your work in 5 five words?
NR: Can, You, Explain, My, Work?