Using latex, leather, rope, and lighting, Nancy Davidson creates sculptures that interrogate the shapes and textures associated with feminine bodies.
The Krannert Art Museum site-specific installation Hive (2020) features two inflatable sculptures by Davidson, each approaching twenty feet tall and lit from within, filling the portico. Davidson drew inspiration for this work from Artemis of Ephesius, the many-breasted cult goddess of the ancient Mediterranean. The sculptures exaggerate the goddess's bodily qualities: her breasts a sign of fertility, possibly in the form of a beehive, each with a single braid cascading down to the floor. These braids suggest caryatids, a feature of Greek, Roman, and later classicizing architecture, in which women with braided hair provide physical support for a building.
Her major work Dustup, funded by a Creative Capital grant, is an irreverent reinvention of the cowgirl character in American popular culture. Dustup was exhibited at the Betty Cunningham Gallery, New York, in 2012 and the Boca Raton Museum of Art in 2013.
Daylight Books published Cowgirl: Nancy Davidson in 2015 with an award to the artist from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. Davidson has had significant solo presentations at Locust Projects, Miami (2017-2018); Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati (2001); and ICA Philadelphia (1999). Her work was included in the pathbreaking feminist exhibition Bad Girls West in 1994.
Davidson completed a BFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.