Nancy Erickson is a pioneering artist who has been making remarkable fabric constructions, quilts, paintings and drawings since the 1960s. She and her husband Ron live in a mountain canyon near Missoula, Montana, where they are surrounded by the deer, cougars, and bears who have lived there for centuries.
Erickson holds a degree in zoology as well as an MFA in painting, and much of her work speaks to the dignity and integrity of individual wild creatures, whom she views as our equals. Working out of her home base at Dancing Rabbit Studios, Nancy paints, draws and sews works that explore relationships among humans and animals as we compete for living space. "All of the quilts," she explains, "point out the importance of community in a future time, and to an acknowledgement of the bears, ravens, cougars, and wolves as powerful elements in life. These individuals act as familiars, or spiritual guides in the lives of humans, and it is they who reestablish communities and retell the old myths. These works attempt to respond to the loneliness we all experience and to indicate possibilities for the future with all of us together."
Of her quilted works, Nancy says, "The commonly accepted name now is art quilts, but for a while I called my pieces 'quilteds' to emphasize my methods. These pieces are painted and stitched as quilts, added to and backed as quilts, but they are really layered, stitched paintings, hence 'quilteds.'" Although she began making square and rectangular pieces, forms common to both traditional quilts and paintings, she has experimented with a variety of asymmetrical forms, and many of her recent "quilteds" take the shape of the cougars, wolves, and women they portray. "In the mid 1990s I worked on quilted pieces that showed bears in caverns or in rooms formerly occupied by humans and covered with cave drawings of early animals," Erickson explains. "The bears wander through these environments, teaching their cubs about history." In this new series, Felis, the ancient history is imprinted on the cougars; the cougars are freed of caves and rooms, and they move freely on the wall."
Erickson's work is represented in the collections of the Museum of Arts & Design in New York, the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum, the Institute and Museum of Fantasy and Play in Princeton, New Jersey, and numerous other institutional and private collections. Since 1965, examples of her work have been included in more than 500 exhibitions in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, the People's Republic of Chin , Germany, the Cape Verde Islands, Niger, Burma, France, Costa Rica, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. Her Felis Forever (1) was named “Best of Show” at Quilt National 2002, and her Pleistocene Memory took the 2006 Best of Show at Quilts=Art=Quilts.