Rather than painting from life, Nancy Holleran uses photos her father took during his boyhood in 1920’s Santa Clara Valley as her source material. Layered over the nostalgia of discovering youthful photos taken by one’s father is the attentiveness and skill required to portray these images with watercolors on paper; and one sees in Holleran’s figures a subtle emphasis on facial features, especially the eyes, which makes her works more than copies but authentic studies in their own right.
Recreating historical and geographical distance within the formal demands of her preferred medium (watercolors) lends Holleran’s work an intimate quality, as though she were struggling to pronounce words spoken to her in a foreign voice. In Great Dog Resistance, Holleran conveys memory’s haunting character while never losing sight of the specific aspects captured by the original photo. Allowing the materiality of her medium to become explicit, the softness of detail that fills out the three dogs, as they stand against a littoral background where distant swimmers wade, invokes a feeling of watery sadness, inviting viewers to linger over a place nearly swallowed by the oblivion of time.
Nancy Holleran lives and works in the Monterey Bay Area.