Abby Lloyd featuring Aunt Nancy
June 29th – August 11th, 2019
Abby’s Room is a show featuring new sculptures by Abby Lloyd and drawings by Abby’s Aunt Nancy. The announcement image is a poster Abby made on ‘Print Shop’ when she was in elementary school.
When my grandma died in 2015, my family and I began cleaning out her house. That’s when I found my Aunt Nancy’s ‘family drawings’ tucked away in a closet. From age 10 to 15, Nancy produced hundreds of drawings of make-believe families. The drawings have a Darger-esque quality – bizarre, compulsive, and funny. Nancy’s work captures the desires that most children have: to grow up, to fall in love, to have friends, to fit in. I recently interviewed Nancy about the drawings:
Interview with Aunt Nancy
Abby Lloyd: Do you remember when you first started to make drawings of families? Aunt Nancy: Yes, when we moved to North Babylon [Long Island] in 1963. I was 10 years old.
Abby Lloyd: Were the families based on families that you knew or families that you saw on TV or what?
Aunt Nancy: The families were always made up, always make believe. If a person happened to look like someone I knew, then I would give them that name. But I never drew people I knew on purpose. A family from one drawing could be cousins or friends with a family from another drawing. I would talk for them. I had a whole thing going on.
Abby Lloyd: Do you remember why you started drawing families? Were you inspired by something?
Aunt Nancy: I loved the Sears catalogue. I would sit in my backyard, look at the Sears catalogue, and talk to my imaginary friends about the people in the photos. I would go through the catalogue picking out outfits for my imaginary friends to wear. I know it sounds crazy! I would talk to them and make up stories...
I’ve always loved families and movies and books about big families. When I was a little girl my favorite book was, ‘The Family that Nobody Wanted.’ It was based on a real family; a husband and wife who couldn’t have children so they adopted many children of different nationalities. It might have inspired me to make the drawings, but I can’t remember. I had the book, in mint condition, but I think my ‘ex-husband’ threw it away when he cleaned the garage out. It’s a real shame because I looked it up online and they were selling it for $1,000!
Abby Lloyd: Was it something you did privately?
Aunt Nancy: Yes, I would sit in my bedroom. I only drew them in my bedroom. I would sit on my Kelly green comforter and make up these families. I would sharpen my colored pencils until the tips were very sharp and then I would draw. I loved colored pencils, I’ve loved colorful things all my life.
Abby Lloyd: Did you show your parents or your siblings your drawings? Aunt Nancy: I’m not sure, I think my mother knew?
Abby Lloyd: Did you show your friends?
Aunt Nancy: I’m not sure, I don’t think I showed anybody.
Abby Lloyd: Did you ever draw your own family?
Aunt Nancy: No, not like this.
Abby Lloyd: Were you encouraged to make art?
Aunt Nancy: I’m not sure.
Abby Lloyd: Did you feel like you were making art when you made your drawings?
Aunt Nancy: Yes.
Aunt Nancy: I think I was 15.
Abby Lloyd: Do you still make art? Do you ever make sketches or doodles?
Aunt Nancy: Yes, sometimes. I work at a preschool and I draw houses and flowers for the kids. They all ask me, ‘Please, please make us a drawing?!’ I’m the only teacher that will do it. I like to do it.
After working at an Estée Lauder factory in Long Island for 38 years Nancy moved to Florida. She currently works as a preschool teacher for children of migrant field workers. Nancy is a mother to 3 children. She lives with her daughter, granddaughter, 10 cats, 5 dogs, and 1 cow.
I relate to my Aunt Nancy through her childhood drawings. Drawing was such an incredible outlet for me as a kid. I was able to express my desires and secret thoughts when I drew. Like Nancy, I would name and give ages to make believe people and talk
out loud as the different characters. I shared artwork with my friends and family, but I also made ‘top secret’ drawings and writings in my journals.
For the show at Freddy, I made a series of ‘Shy Girl’ sculptures inspired by Aunt Nancy’s childhood drawings. My sculptures are based on a craft known as ‘Shy Dolls’ or ‘Time Out Dolls.’ Shy Dolls are made to look like real children. They are commonly placed against a wall or tucked into a corner of a house. Since I was a child, I thought these dolls possessed a spooky quality. ‘Shy Girls’ can be shells of grown children, ghosts, or ‘imaginary friends.’ My ‘Shy Girls’ are perfect companions to Nancy’s work.
The exhibition is on view by appointment only.