Quiver, ink, colored pencil, gouache, and graphite on paper
Courtesy of the artist
Swirling patterns detailed in ink, colored pencil, gouache, and graphite, Nancy Blum’s works lead the viewer into energetic and engrossing fantastical realms in which flowers, normally diminutive, have grown to monstrous proportions. Her art, like Ebony Bolt’s mixed media panel and Zachari Logan’s monumental pastels in the previous gallery, is deeply influenced by the 19th-century English designer William Morris, as well as by earlier 16th- and 17th-century botanical paintings. However, Blum’s flowers are so rich and vibrant they appear almost threatening—ready to leap off the wall. Her work takes the distinctive pattern of Morris and sets it free of any formal constraints. Blum’s blossoms have been given a dose of artistic Miracle-Gro.
Blum’s art is an affirmation of life force and a rejection of repression: her choice to depict the “passion flower” is not a coincidence. Like the fin de siècle writings of Oscar Wilde, the artist embraces the decadent, though to cheerier effect. As Blum has stated, she is not interested in simply transcribing nature or illustrating flowers as a “feminine,” “decorative” motif. Rather, she moves them front and center, claiming their essential role in reproduction: “My deeper intent is to conjure the ‘flower’ as an active, forceful agent, subverting a culturally conditioned point of view that often deems the ephemeral and organic as less powerful and of limited value.”