Walking Through the Desert with My Eyes Closed

by Nancy Floyd

I initially traveled to Death Valley National Park in California each year as a way to explore a beautiful, often inhospitable landscape. However, after a few years of annual sojourns to the desert it became clear that I was drawn to barren landscapes because they were exquisitely designed environments where I could be utterly alone, with no human sounds to distract me. I had lost both my parents and the land became a metaphor for my loss. 

Today, the desert is my second home.  While hiking, I ponder the marks humans make—those that are temporary (footsteps in the sand), those that are designed to be useful (trailhead signs) and those that destroy (graffiti on petroglyphs, vandalism).  I feel vulnerable and insignificant with my backpack and water, yet cognizant that I can do much harm if I choose.

The desert is a place where loss is evident even while life continues to adapt and survive. Walking explores the fragility of life as I see it while making my way through barren landscapes. I’m thinking about the literal and metaphorical evidence that we leave behind.  

Special thanks to the following who made this exhibition possible:
Career Opportunity Program Grant, Oregon Arts Commission and the Ford Family Foundation, Oregon.
Summer Research Funds, Office of the Vice-President for Research and Economic Development, Georgia State University.
Faculty Summer Research Award, Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design, Georgia State University.

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Nancy Floyd has been a visual artist for 40 years.  Her interests include the aging female body, the passage of time, and desert landscapes.   She uses photography and video to address the ways in which lens-based media can connect deeply with experience and memory. 

Floyd has received numerous grants and awards including the 2019 International Center of Photography / GOST Books First Photo Book Award and a 2018 Aaron Siskind Photography Fellowship.

This year, Floyd’s 39-year self-portrait series, Weathering Time, was published by ICP/GOST and her work is being exhibited at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, GA; the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, IL; PhEST International Photography Festival, Monopoli, Italy; and Whitespace Gallery, Atlanta, GA. In 2022 her work will be exhibited at The Portraits Festival, Vichy, France. Her work was recently featured in the New Yorker Photobooth and i-D Magazine.

Floyd’s artwork is in the collection of the Center for Creative Photography (Tucson, AZ), the High Museum of Art (Atlanta, GA), Museum of Contemporary Photography (Chicago, IL), Lightwork (Syracuse, NY), the Joshua Tree Highland Residency Program Collection (Joshua Tree, CA) and in numerous private collections.

Floyd holds a BFA from the University of Texas at Austin, an MA from Columbia College Chicago, and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.  She is Emerita Professor in the Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design at Georgia State University in Atlanta and lives in Bend, Oregon. Her website is nancyfloyd.com.