By Rose Tizane Merrill
On Nancy Azara's Work: Visiting the studio at the residency in Greve
When I first saw Nancy's bright red pastel leaf outlines on what looked to be humble tracing paper, hanging in the studio at San Cresci, I didn't quite 'get' them. I saw something pleasingly Matisse-like in the dancing lines and bold, almost naive, cut-out effect, but I couldn't fully imagine how these rather understated ingredients would become something worthy of gracing the walls of a gallery. Little did I know what richly textured tapestries they would become . . .
I watched them grow denser with each visit I paid to the studio. Calling the process 'organic' seems fitting rather than hackneyed in this case, because, as the pieces developed more and more complexity with the layers of wood-cut rubbings Nancy added under and around the leaves, it became clear that these were portraits of life itself, becoming. The orphaned leaves grew their contexts, sometimes as warm, natural extensions of a bustling, fluid density, soemtimes as stark, bloody punctuation. And - whether intentionally or not - these moods lyrically mirrored the Tuscan spring bursting to life outside our door.
Nancy eventually explained to me that her choice of paper (actually a very robust Mylar drafting paper) was inspired by the paper scrolls carried by travelling Buddhist monks. And even without this added spiritual association, the effect of the finished pieces are for me like ripples in a lake: deceptively simple, reverberating almost endlessly, born from lines rough as stone.