Deborah Dancy is a multi-media abstract artist, whose paintings, drawings, digital photography and sculptural objects examine and mine abstraction’s potential to move across mediums and materials exploring subtlety and confrontation. There is an undercurrent of nuance and tension that mark her work, as if something is poised to happen.Dancy’s gestural brushstrokes—what she calls “tangential entanglements” and “linear demarcations”—are characteristic of her engaging, disruptive style. Abutting shapes and colors are inserted to provoke and entice, yet disrupt. From densely painted fields to minimally suggested forms, Dancy’s work operates in the recognition that moments, meanderings, accidents and process operate best when beautiful and disconcerting are combined. Her paintings, sensuous linear gestures glide across the surface until abruptly they collide with the unexpected.
Dancy embraces the natural ambiguity of abstraction. Although her works are inspired by her own emotions and experiences, they also allow viewers to contemplate their own relationships to her work. Dancy says, “I make abstract work because I am interested in its ability to operate in a realm in which beauty and tension simultaneously exist without explanation or narrative.” In her photography as well as her sculptures, one finds images, cobbled bricolage of detritus, found and fabricated objects, playful yet pointed exist as simultaneously humorous and grotesque.
Deborah Dancy retired in 2018 as Professor Emeritus of art at the University of Connecticut where she was on the faculty in the Department of Art and Art History since 1981. She has received numerous significant honors and awards, including: a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, New England Foundation for the Arts/NEA Individual Artist Grant, Nexus Press Artist Book Project Award, Visual Studies Artist Book Project Residency Grant, The American Antiquarian Society’s William Randolph Hearst Fellowship, a YADDO Fellow, Women’s Studio Workshop Residency Grant, Connecticut Commission of the Arts Artist Grant, as well as a Connecticut Book Award Illustration Nominee.
In 2018 Dancy was included in the exhibition Magnetic Fields, organized by the Kemper Museum and traveled as well to the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Magnetic Fields places abstract works by multiple generations of black women artists in context with one another—and within the larger history of abstract art—for the first time, revealing the artists’ role as under-recognized leaders in abstraction. Dancy has exhibited nationally and internationally at museums and institutions such as The Fuller Museum, The Housatonic Museum, The Mattatuck Museum, The College of Saint Rose, The University of Rhode Island, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, The Spencer Museum, The Mead Art Museum, SACI Gallery, Florence, Italy, The US Embassy in Paris, and The DeCordova Museum. Her work is included in the collections of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, The Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, The Birmingham Museum of Art, The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Montgomery Museum of Art, The Spencer Museum of Art, The Hunter Museum of Art, Vanderbilt University, Grinnell College, Oberlin College Museum of Art, Davidson Art Center, The Detroit Museum of Art, Wesleyan, Davidson Art Center, SACI Gallery, Florence, Italy, Wesleyan University, The Bellagio Hotel, and The United States Embassy in Cameroon among others.