press release

Born in Detroit in 1947, Nancy Mitchnick began to paint in earnest around age twenty. She quickly became enmeshed in the artistic milieu building around her, though as a woman in a movement that was very focused on masculinity, and as a figurative painter in a moment where abstraction ruled the day, she was always something of a divergent figure. Despite this seeming clash, the intensity of Detroit's Cass Corridor scene—a neighborhood that in the 1960s and 70s was home to a vigorous group of young artists—was a perfect match for her extraordinary drive to paint. Working from the world around her and from photographs, the paintings she produced were energetic, assertive, and direct.

Mitchnick left Detroit for New York in 1973. Eventually she came to work as a Professor at Bard, CalArts, and Harvard, taking her from coast to coast and back again over the following decades. With each new environment her subjects evolved. In Detroit she had painted the visages of her artist friends. In New York she discovered her skills as a landscape painter. When she moved to New England to teach at Harvard, she painted the muddy landscapes of Ipswich.

Mitchnick was still living in Massachusetts when she began revisiting the landscapes of Detroit; today she has returned physically as well, and is working out of a studio in the Russell Industrial Center. Her paintings reflect the city, with its idiosyncratically doleful emptiness and bucolic appeal. The images are strong, bright, unabashed, and full-frontal, and are among the strongest works of Mitchnick's career.

Curated by MOCAD's Susanne Feld Hilberry Senior Curator at Large Jens Hoffmann