I place my visual images on a tightrope between comedy and tragedy. In my art, I achieve a balance between thought carried to its ultimate extreme in comic absurdity and feeling at its most intense level in tragic consequence. A vital part of my work exists in the exposure I give to the ambiguities, inconsistencies, polarities and dualities of the human condition.
My construction/assemblages—many of which are kinetic, incorporating light and sound—range from life-sized to intimate in scale. The images become a catalyst to awaken consciousness. It is my sense of hope for the future that makes me want to facilitate change through awareness for a better, more humane world. I see my art as reaching out to be a connecting point for awareness.
I have always been fascinated with objects and how these can be transformed. Utilitarian objects as well as children’s toys are directly related to the social, political and emotional states of the society. I take objects out of context, combine, alter and transform them into statements about the human condition so that I am confronting people with real things in a newly assembled form. The objects become metamorphosed into personal and direct statements of another level of reality in which there is a unity of the physical and spiritual worlds.
I see my work as a reflection of the present realities in our society with their tragic and sometimes comic elements. Civilizations are recorded and remembered by their wars and their art. The arts can act as checks and balances against the more destructive side of human experience. My artmaking allows me to live in harmony with myself and the world as I perceive it.
1973 Internship Art Psychotherapy, Zanesville, OH
1972 MFA Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA
1971 Metal Foundry Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA
1969 BA James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
Quotation from Art and Politics Now by Susan Noyes Platt, PhD (©2010.)
California sculptor Nancy Worthington “committed to making social commentary early in her career. First inspired by Picasso’s Guernica, which she saw in New York in 1965. Her background is conservative, Southern Baptist: she began [as a child] drawing during long sermons, so from the first time that she set pen to paper she was resisting the status quo. Worthington’s art embraces Dada, Pop, kitsch and modernism. Its game/assemblage format might be compared to the work of Edward Kienholz, but addresses the political process in the guise of a trip to an amusement park.”
Worthington broke the glass ceiling to become the first woman to graduate with an MFA in sculpture from the College of Arts and Architecture at Pennsylvania State University in 1972.
Her artwork drew national and international attention in February 2003 when The Crossing, from her 26-piece George Dubya Series created from 2000-04, was censored from the French Cultural Center in San Francisco. The Sunday edition of The New York Times, Le Monde (Paris, France) and World of Art Magazine (Stockholm, Sweden) all featured this story. The Crossing was exhibited in Potentially Harmful, The Art of American Censorship at Georgia State University, Atlanta in 2006.
Worthington’s artworks represented the United States in the 18th International Biennial in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Her work has been exhibited in Paris, France; Venice and Rome, Italy; South America; China; Vietnam; India and Japan. Her art is included in the permanent collections of the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., the U.S. State Department Art in Embassies Program, The San Jose Museum of Art and The Mills College Art Museum, among others. Worthington’s works are also in private collections worldwide.