I am always so excited to read about successful North Kingstown High School alumni. Whether it be a local NK student who graduated from the Naval Academy or played college football or became a professional artist, it reminds me of how incredible our school system is and how fortunate I am to have children attending North Kingstown schools. The art and music programs are outstanding and they continue to produce amazing and talented kids who go on to rewarding careers in the arts. We have some very talented young men and women in North Kingstown.
One such North Kingstown High School alumni is Haley Nannig. After graduating from NK, she went on to receive a BFA (Bachelor’s in Fine Arts) from Alfred University, in painting and printmaking with a minor in art history and education. Haley has exhibited her work in numerous galleries in New York and is now poised for a solo show right here in North Kingstown. I recently caught up with Tuni Renaud Schartner, RI’s Economic Gardener & Co-Founder of The Hive RI, who mentioned the show. “Our newest art show at The Hive (which changes every 2 months) is a solo show by a North Kingstown resident and NKHS alum, Haley Nannig. Haley just returned home to RI after graduating college. She’s our first solo show at The Hive RI’s Art Gallery and we’re very excited to help launch her professional career. Her open house is next Thursday, less than a week away!!! July 23rd from 5:30-7:30.” I reached out to Haley via email to learn a bit more about her work and inspiration. Here is an excerpt from our conversation:
In your bio, it says you are a painter who produces art dependent on immediacy and speed. In your process, are you closing your eyes, imagining the end result and then working towards that result; or are you working at this fast pace of layering and creation and only at the end do you realize what you have accomplished. In other words, are there any pre-conceived thoughts or are you simply just creating and seeing what happens?
Yes, immediacy and speed is important to my work. Partly because I feel my practice can be used as a release of emotion, built up energy, and thoughts but also because aesthetically I find quick and gestural mark making more pleasing. I am constantly sketching and writing which later affects my large-scale work. Of course there are pre-conceived concepts or ideas before I create a piece but as I layer the paint some new ideas come and old ones slip away. I tend to start with a color or shape and then react to that, and so on, creating several layers. But what I find important when making abstract art is intention and that you are always abstracting something, whether an idea, shape, or thing. From my website I feel this might best describe my way of making: “Fascinated in the idea of spending a large or little amount of time on a layer and then completely wiping it out, leaving only windows of time and the feeling of cycles.”
Also, in your bio, you mention the sea, the mountains, the farmland. Are you inspired by a certain aspect of nature – death, rebirth of the land, just generally inspired?
Nature definitely strongly impacts my work. I think this has to do with the large amount of time I spend surrounded by it, whether in Rhode Island by the ocean or in Alfred, NY where I just graduated from a college in the middle of nowhere surrounded by farms. Last summer I lived on Block Island and I realized my fascination in cycles within nature. For example the way the moon pulls the tides, or wildlife decaying into the sand. The cycle of death, decay, and rebirth fueled my work for the last year; I think that can be seen directly in some pieces which have bones and less evident in more abstracted forms, but as I work that is a constant thought.
Do you use any special materials in your artwork?
Most recently I have been working with oil paint on canvas but within the last couple of years mixed material has been very important in my painting. I use a range of materials in several of my earlier pieces and I feel that adds dimension and also conceptual baggage as to what the material was previously or its history.
Anything specific to RI or better yet, specific to NK that you have made? And if so, what is the name of it, why did you make it, what is its significance to our area?
Almost all of my ocean-scapes are of Rhode Island, either in Newport, where I now live or Block Island, where I used to reside. One of the pieces in the show “Dolphin Corpse” was inspired by a decaying dolphin I found on Block Island last summer. Although specifically the viewer may not see North Kingstown, my work is totally filled with influences from the place I lived for 18 years of my life. That’s the beauty of art, it is completely reflective of the artist producing it, the environment surrounding them, and the time the artist lives in. It is almost unavoidable to create work that doesn’t speak about you.
Who are your influences? Anyone local to mention?
Some of my favorite artists include: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Rauschenberg, Egon Schiele, Richard Diebenkorn, Gustav Klimt, Marina Abramovic, Jason Shawn Alexander, Roger Hilton….the list could go on forever. As for local artists I am inspired and intrigued by Mike Bryce’s work, which I see a lot throughout Block Island and other Rhode Island ocean towns.
Thanks Haley for taking time to let us get to know you better. And best wishes for your solo show at the Hive this month. To learn more about Haley Nannig and see a wide range of her work, please visit her official website at www.haleynannig.com. To learn more about her solo show at the Hive, visit the event page on Facebook – Art Show Open House @ The Hive RI.