A SMALL SPECK ON A MAP: HALEY NANNIG’S PIECES OF A PUZZLE
with a micro-interview by Elaine Sexton
Elaine Sexton: There’s a floaty-quality to the shapes in your paintings that seems to be in conversation with your outdoor installations, many are set by the sea. Are these separate bodies of work or something working in tandem with one another?
Haley Nannig: The stretched canvas paintings led to the outdoor painting installations, mainly due to the pandemic and no longer having a “white cube” to fill. I had been planning to fill a large gallery space with paintings that stretched high up to the ceilings and laid flat on the floor. Paintings as puzzle pieces, creating an immersive, disorienting experience of nature. Instead, the outdoors became the gallery out of necessity and accessibility. Rather than canvas, I started foraging discarded objects to repurpose into paintings that I could place into the environment. The outdoor work is very new for me and I’m still working through the kinks, but it feels different than my more traditional painting practice and I think that is a good thing. The two ways of making do however work in tandem, one can’t exist without the other.
These paintings and installations were all made over the last year. They’re about the grandiose feeling of being alone in nature. They’re about feeling small or getting stuck in the middle of a natural phenomenon. I think of them as zooming really far into, say, a rock or zooming really far out, like viewing canyons from above. When I find myself by the ocean or on a farm, in the mountains or walking through deserts, I always picture myself from an aerial view. I do this very often, daily, even. It’s strange, I suppose, but I’m constantly reminding myself I am a small speck on the map and that natural forces and structures are much more powerful than any of us. Although I used different approaches, and the work may appear as two separate series both were born from the same thread of thought. The materials changed, but the content remained consistent.
My paintings have always danced around ocean themes; probably because I grew up by the sea in Rhode Island and now live on the coast of Maine. It’s where I spend any spare or dire moment. It’s where I would always rather be, any season. I move and travel often and even when I am in landlocked places like Germany, Colorado, Western New York, or New Mexico, I find myself painting about water. Even further, I love to imagine these areas when they were covered with water. It’s really one thing I can be certain about in my practice and my life, I obsess over water.
Haley Nannig completed her MFA in Painting from Alfred-Düsseldorf, New York State College of Ceramics in 2020. Recent exhibitions include: “In Through the Out Door, Group Show,Cohen/Turner Gallery, Alfred, NY, Breakfast in America, Group Show, Atelier Schloss Jägerhof, Düsseldorf, DE, Interdisciplinary, First Year MFA Exhibition, Robert C. Turner Gallery, Alfred, NY, Kunstpunkte 2019, Group Show, Alfred University Studios, Düsseldorf, in 2018: Group Show, Portland Chamber of Commerce, Portland, ME, Solo Show, 44 North, Deer Isle, ME, Addition and Subtraction, Solo Show, Fore River Brewing Company, Portland, ME, Gathered Windows, Solo Show, View Art Center, Old Forge, NY. Artist residencies include: Helene Wurlitzer Foundation (2017), and View Arts Center (2016). Publications include: Editor’s Pick 2020, New American Painting Social Distance, and Create Magazine (2020). haleynannig.com