Nancy Dwyer (b. 1954), Welcome, 2016; Silkscreen on fabricated powder-coated aluminum, AP 1/1, edition of five total, 24 x 36 x 2 inches; Gift of the artist, 2017
Nancy Dwyer’s attractive, brightly colored Welcome is shaped like the ubiquitous welcome mat placed at the entrance to many American homes; yet it contains a cleverly disguised, contradictory message—a thinly drawn, thinly veiled threat: KEEP OUT. Her biting criticism delivered in such a spare, but straightforward manner, has characterized her work for decades. She astutely incorporates humor with her sardonic views of social interactions to amplify inequities that defy eradication.
Dwyer co-founded Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center with Charles Clough, Robert Longo, Cindy Sherman and Michael Zwack in 1974. During the next decade, she created art from appropriated images, using films, television, newspapers, magazines and other forms of popular culture. Rather than duplicate these images as Pop artists did in the 1960s, she took them out of their original contexts, reducing figures to bold cartoon-like drawings with simplified applications of color. Since the mid-1980s, Dwyer has featured words, puns and irony in her work in socio-political word sculpture and paintings. She has been commissioned to produce site-specific public works of art in the United States and Europe that spell out appropriate messages to their environments.—NW