Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester, 500 University Ave., will exhibit “My Life Has Gotten So Busy that it Now Takes Up All of My Time,” by Nancy Jurs, of Scottsville, on July 15-Sept. 9.
The exhibition of sculptural installations and photographs focuses on self-portraiture, autobiography and personal narrative.
Jurs is known as a potter who trained at Rochester Institute of Technology’s School for American Craftsmen. Less known are her sculptures and installations that employ found, unaltered objects, which evoke personages or anthropomorphic visions, and her manipulated photographs. These works represent a self-reflective conceptual thread throughout Jurs’ career.
“We are delighted to share these little-known works with our visitors and guests, which even Nancy Jurs’ most dedicated followers and collectors may not be familiar with,” said Jonathan Binstock, exhibition curator and MAG director. “Nancy introduced herself to me as an artist who works with clay. From the start, I admired her pots, dogs, abstracted torsos, sentinel-like and guardian figures; however, after a few years of getting to know her, I learned of a surprising and provocative conceptual aspect to her work, one that speaks to her understanding of her life’s work and role as an artist.”
The exhibition’s title derives from a work of art with a related name in 2008: “Artist Statement (My life Has Gotten So Busy That it Now Takes Up All of My Time.” This piece features long, narrow sheets of nylon mesh to which Jurs affixed colored lint collected from her clothes dryer for over 45 years. The individual sheets hang vertically on a wall in a row, and the lint is arranged in patterns of dots and dashes, Morse code that spells out the words of the statement in the title. The artwork simultaneously is a reflection on the relationship of life and work, and an effort to make art out of work, out of the material of her everyday life.
“Spontaneity is the name of my game,” Jurs said. “I get an idea, and I want it now. That’s why clay is so wonderful, and that’s also why I like to work with found objects. As a dedicated dumpster diver for 50 years, finding meaning in treasure and trash is the only way I know how to save the world.”
Other objects in the exhibition include “Lost Weekend,” a suite of 15 photographic self-portraits that are obscured and disfigured to successive degrees, all suspended by the weight of empty bottles of Tanqueray gin. “Roofus II” features reclaimed roof slates juxtaposed and hung on a wall. Jurs arranges the slates, each with two holes, in a row to suggest a line of anthropomorphic visages, each with two eyes, perhaps horses or cattle peering over a fence in the landscape.