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Oh Dear! Our Life was Like a Horror Show!
(No Wonder You had to Learn to be Resourceful)

Early Works of Nancy Powhida
Curated by Kristen Jensen
May 27 - June 25, 2023
Opening Reception: Tuesday, May 23, 6-8pm

The Family, oil on canvas, 45 x 54 inches, 1988

The sentiment Powhida speaks about in this excerpt from a text sent to her younger son is not that found in b movies or slasher films, but located in the shadowy spectres of her family, childhood dolls and animals, and the cacophony of responsibility in her role as a sole caregiver while still contending with her own sexuality and personhood. Powhida started making artwork at age 40: the powerful works on paper and painting from this period included in this exhibition manifest the difficulties of raising two children as a single mother, while struggling with her own feelings of isolation from her family, its history, and her sense of otherness.

The main character is based on my doll Nancy Lee, but she probably represents me.
As I look at the two figures to the left I think they are my parents, especially since my
father was in the navy and the put out expression on the woman does remind me of my
mother and my affect on her often! The little black doll was mine. The rabbit was mine.
He spent one winter in the snow. The two people could be symbolic of two children.
The large partial figures represent female authority, my authority, and life forces that
come and go. The high heeled shoes symbolize the woman as a sexual creature as
well as one who makes offspring. The animals also show the woman as a caretaker of
the family. All the shelves and dishes symbolize the home and the artist. Enough
reminiscing. Making those paintings was like a mental parallel to physically making
children. I am so lucky I could do both.


Nancy Powhida was born in 1942 in Glens Falls, New York and grew up in the nearby village of Hudson Falls. Upon “discovering” that she was an artist at forty years of age she went on to study art at Skidmore College, Vermont College of Norwich University, and the University at Albany where she earned degrees in painting and sculpture. She worked for thirty-one years as a vocational rehabilitation counselor and her intimate experiences with human behavior and social interaction in this context informs her largely autobiographical work. Over the past forty years she has created significant bodies of work in drawing, painting, sculpture, and printmaking. This is her first solo exhibition in New York City.