My paintings begin as hand drawings on snow or ice-covered windshields and rain-wet windows. The medium, of course, is unstable and subject to quick change: weather inflected by my gestures, gestures inflected by their own collapse. I photograph ice as it melts into rivulets between my marks, snow as it clings to itself and is eventually loosed in fragments in to the spaces I’ve drawn. From these photographic records I begin a sequence of conte crayon, graphite and acrylic drawings on roofing paper – the powdery crayons dissimilar to my fingers gliding through snow, the abrasive roofing surface nothing like a smooth pane of glass. Figures originally inspired by a natural event are brought indoors and rendered in more permanent material; I hang these up, begin to paint.
I spent about ten years inventing an original process using a distemper of hide glue and pigment that dries to a glass-like surface. I layer distemper mixed with pigment on large aluminum panels, sometimes embedding hand written letters, prints transferred from an etch-a-sketch, and maps of places I have drawn in mud, snow and ice using my hands and feet. The paintings capture a stark tension between the collaged elements with the smooth sheets of distemper and paint that erase the imprint of a brush stroke even as they preserve the painterly gesture. Indeed the distemper, translucent in some parts, opaque in others is like a photographic emulsion or x-ray, a momentary apprehension, a seeing through.
In a sense, I am trying to reconnect with a former self, in a place and time that was. I think of my process as a kind of incantation, a summoning of a past landscape that was once deeply known and is now a large part of my art making process. This need to navigate between inner and outer worlds began in my childhood in the state of Maine. I grew up surrounded by mountains and ocean: a landscape of extreme and unpredictable weather. This work is also my response to global weather patterns and the fragile, fleeting hold we have as humans in a precarious world; the ever-changing climatic changes and powerful weather events which parallel the continuous unknowns and upheavals of interior life.
Photography has always been important in my studio life. With the increased use of photography in my work has come a desire to better understand exactly how I navigate between painting and photography. At this juncture I am making paintings that align much more closely with the way my photographs are constructed as records of a physical interaction on a snow, ice or dew covered windshield or windowpane with the natural world.
Nancy Manter’s passionate and expressive work incorporates gesture, markings, and pattern. The painter and photographer, a Maine native, now divides her time between Seal Cove and New York. She has shown widely in the United States, Europe, and South America. Her work is in numerous collections including the Whitney Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Guggenheim in New York, the National Museum of Art in Washington D.C, the Fogg Art Museum in Cambridge, and the Portland Museum of Art. She has taught at Princeton, the Parsons School of Design, and Cooper Union. In Maine she has shown at Waterfall Arts in Belfast, College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Aucosisco Gallery in Portland, and at CMCA. In 2014, she had a solo show at Marrietta College in Ohio and was in shows at PhoPa Gallery, Southwest Minnesota State University, the Morgan Stanley Gallery in New York City, and the Sideshow Gallery in Brooklyn.