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BlackRock’s “Domestic Pursuits” Features Three MoCo Artists

BlackRock Center for the Arts will present “Domestic Pursuits: Nancy McNamara, Dominie Nash, Hillary Stee,” an exhibit featuring three artists from Montogmery County from Saturday, March 18 through Saturday, April 15, in the Kay Gallery. The center will host a Meet the Artists Reception on Saturday, March 18 from 2:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

Exploring the objects and emotions often linked to the daily lives of women, artists Nancy McNamara, Dominie Nash, and Hillary Steel celebrate domestic pursuits in both subject and technique used to create hand-pulled prints and stitched and woven textile works.

McNamara uses collagraph, solar plate, and other printmaking techniques to experiment with images of women’s garments as she explores feminine stereotypes in society. Nash creates fiber collages by layering hand-dyed and printed fabrics in quilted compositions featuring humble still life objects which express the importance of domestic activities. Steel weaves thread into cloth then transforms the woven surface by resist dyeing, printing, cutting and reassembling her textile works into abstract visual narratives embodying the labor of her process.

The “Domestic Pursuits” exhibit marks a new kind of collaboration for McNamara, Nash and Steel. Working side-by-side for many years in a shared studio space located in the Takoma Park neighborhood of Washington, DC, the three artists have independently achieved success exhibiting both nationally and internationally, but they have never shown their work together. While they each have continued to develop unique bodies of work using distinctly different processes and techniques, the three old friends recently began to recognize subtle influences linking their work which was the impetus for this three-person exhibition.

Nancy McNamara, a resident of Silver Spring, was a Peace Corps Volunteer and is now a professor of art, focuses on both the additive and subtractive nature of printmaking processes to manipulate and experiment with texture and color in works like “Golden Triangle” a collagraph depicting women’s clothing in motion where the figure is only a memory.

Dominie Nash, a Bethesda residents, is an award-winning artist whose work is included in many collections which include the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery, creates still life scenes in art quilts like “Stills From A Life 9” using shapes that represent the objects we surround ourselves with which symbolize home.

Hillary Steel, also are resident of Silver Spring, is a teacher and has been an artist for more than 30 years, chooses slow and labored processes to hand weave thread into ikat designs and dye fabrics using batik and shibori techniques before constructing pieces like “Embrace,” one of her powerful wall-hung compositions.

All three artists will deliver brief remarks at 2:30 p.m. and be on hand to answer questions throughout the reception. Nancy McNamara, Dominie Nash, and Hillary Steel will return to BlackRock on Saturday, April 8 to deliver Artist Talks and a Gallery Tour at 2:00 p.m. with the discussion focused on the creative process and techniques each artist used to create the work on display. The Meet the Artists Reception and Artist Talk & Gallery Tour events are free and open to the public.

The Kay Gallery of BlackRock Center for the Arts is open Monday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Admission to the Kay Gallery is free. For more information go to the BlackRock website.


Top: Hillary Steel, “Embrace,” textile, ikat, shibori, batik resist dyeing, handweaving, applique, cotton, 91 x 71 inches.

Next: Nancy McNamara, “Golden Triangle,” collagraph, hand colored, 23.5 x 19.5 inches.

Next: Dominie Nash, “Stills From A Life 9,” fabric collage, 46 x 44 inches.