Nancy Baker: Duck and Cover Drill depicts apocalyptic scenes set in intricate landscapes populated by naked figures who alternately flee in fear or dance in oblivious revelry. Borrowing imagery from Medieval and Baroque art, Baker also incorporates science fiction, cartoon, and other pop culture iconography, creating a rich temporal tapestry, while deliberately mingling high-brow and low-brow tastes. A truly facile painter, Baker’s work encompasses multiple modes of rendering, from traditional, highly modeled forms to decorative patterning, and flat silhouetted forms.
Baker presents a world on the verge of self-destruction, a warning and admonition to humankind-a contemporary version of Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. Duck and Cover Drill refers to the safety precautions taught to school children beginning in the 1940’s that would supposedly protect them against a nuclear attack. The title indicates the artist’s skepticism. As we all know, hiding under your desk won’t help, and Baker suggests no one will escape unscathed.
The work is labyrinthine in composition and kaleidoscopic in its jewel-toned palette. A surreal quality is achieved as Medieval figures mingle with cartoon characters such as Piggy Hamhock, the Poky Little Puppy from the popular children’s book, and ominous flying saucers. Baker ups the ante by taking liberty with scale: leviathan flowers tower over figures, while giant Technicolor birds hover in the sky above. The artist is decidedly disgusted with the ills society has wrought upon itself, yet there is a window of hope in the inherent beauty of the work.
Baker’s solo exhibitions include Winkleman Gallery, New York, NY; Gallery Anthony Curtis, Boston, MA; and Heriard Cimino Gallery, New Orleans, LA. Selected group shows include Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC; Jancar Gallery, Los Angeles, CA; Project Four, Washington, DC; and Volitant Gallery, Austin, TX. Baker’s work is in several private and corporate collections, and has won numerous grants and fellowships. She holds a B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts, New York, NY.