Nancy Hild’s ancestry comes from West Virginia and Kentucky. Her mother was Mary Adkins Hild (1915-2011) who grew up in Hamlin, West Virginia. Her father, Raymond Charles Hild (1911-1998) was born in New Albany and grew up in Owensboro, Kentucky. Nancy’s parents married on November 17, 1943; they were married for 54 years. Nancy’s brother Charles was born in 1945 and Nancy followed in 1948. Charles died in 1953.
Nancy earned her B.F.A. in 1970 and her M.F.A. in 1976, both from the University of Indiana-Bloomington. In the late 1970’s Nancy moved to Chicago where she had a studio on Clark Street. By 1980, she had become sole owner of a building on North Avenue in Wicker Park. Over the years, she transformed the 10,000 square foot building into a cherished living and working space. It was her Chicago home for almost forty years, and it always included beloved pets: her dogs, E.O., Zöe, and Bou Bou; her rabbit, Bunny Sue; and a number of chickens.
At the turn of the millennium, Nancy began to focus on relocating to a place and culture that she had always loved – Mexico – where she lived in Juchitán and Oaxaca. Her work became more intense as she found power in indigenous symbols and in the poetry and thought of Zapoteca culture. The “guardian” of Nancy’s art, Linda James, describes it this way:
“Nancy did some of her finest work in the last decade of her life. Her paintings are complex, vibrant and masterful in technical facility. They show a coalescence of consistent elements, markers of a career in painting that ultimately display a clear, unique, and individual vision. Her favorite themes are repeated in both overt and subtle ways: animals; the smoking hand; nostalgia-evoking objects (e.g., polka-dotted gloves and cow fabric); truncated torsos giving us an animal viewpoint or thwarting the objectification of women’s bodies; and her remarkable balance of dignity and humor.”
Nancy had a far-reaching art career in Chicago with over seventy exhibitions during her life-time. She was a member of Artemisia Gallery and was often involved in alternative and feminist spaces. Her work was shown at the Art Institute of Chicago, The Chicago Cultural Center and the Women’s Museum of Art in Washington D.C. as well as a number of Chicago galleries, including Ann Nathan Gallery, Aron Packer Gallery, Las Manos and Woman Made Gallery. Nancy also exhibited internationally – from the United Kingdom and South America to Africa, China, and Mexico.
Nancy left a large collection of artwork and over 3,000 books at the time of her death in March 2017. Many of her paintings and drawings have been distributed to private and public collections. Her books are now in the Gerber-Hart Library, The University of Chicago Library, and Fundacion Alumnos 47 in Mexico City. Five non-profits, including Woman Made Gallery, were bequeathed in her will.
In honor of and inspired by Nancy’s unbounded love of animals and her support for both women’s and animal rights, WMG has scheduled a group exhibition, ‘Language of the Voiceless’ and juried by Nancy’s friend, artist Jeramy Turner, on exhibit from September 28 to October 20, 2018 and viewable online: https://womanmade.org/language-of-the-voiceless
Banner Images from left to right:
Nancy with her parents and older brother in 1949
Nancy on a pony at age 3 in front of the family’s home in Ohio
Nancy at age 12 holding her pet chick
Nancy in the late 1970’s in her Chicago studio on Clark Street
Nancy with her dog, Zoe
Nancy in 2015 in Oaxaca, Mexico