Nancy Azara

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Nancy Azara
Brooklyn, NY
Alma materEmpire State College
Finch College
Known forSculpture
MovementFeminist Art Movement

Nancy Azara (born October 13, 1939) is an American sculptor. Her work is carved, assembled and highly painted wood with gold and silver leaf and encaustic. The wood, the paint and the layers that make up the sculpture record a journey of memory, images and ideas.

Life and career[edit]

Azara was born in the Dyker Heights section of Brooklyn, New York. She is a graduate of Finch College, NY; Empire State College, SUNY and also studied at the Art Students League of New York and at the Lester Polakoff Studio of Stage Design.

After graduating from Finch, she became a costume designer for the theatre. Known for her artwork that encompasses feminism, healing and individual connection to the divine, she developed her political views and signature style as a part of the 1970s feminist art movement in the United States. She was included in the feminist publication Heresies [1] and most recently in the Women's Art Journal

In 1979, Azara co-founded a feminist art school, The New York Feminist Art Institute [2] 1979-1990 with Miriam Schapiro, Carol Stronghilos, Irene Peslikis, Lucille Lessane and Selena Whitefeather. Azara says, “It was our intent to examine the expression of many of the issues relating to gender, self and identity in art. For my first workshop there, I devised a way to share my experience of recording images and ideas in a class called Consciousness- raising, Visual Diaries, Art Making.[3]


Azara recently exhibited her work I am the Vine, You are the Branches at St. Ann and the Holy Trinity Church, Brooklyn Heights, NY and Of leaves and vines . . . A shifting braid of lines at SACI Gallery in Florence, Italy. Azara has been included in notable exhibitions such as the traveling exhibition in 2006, How American Women Artists Invented Post-Modernism. Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ.

In 2004, she was commissioned by the Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in Hamilton, NJ to create a piece that honored the doctors’ service. The work stands 28 ft. (total) long x 6.5 ft. high x 8in. deep and is in a long corridor near both the operation room and the emergency room of the hospital.

In 2008-9, she re-exhibited Heart Wall, a 24 ft. installation in the lobby of 340 Madison Avenue, New York, NY for 18 months.


Azara received a fellowship from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Umbertide, Italy (2010); an Elan Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women’s Studio Center (2004); a Chikraniketan Fellowship, Kovalam Junction, Kerala, South India (2001); a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, Genoa, Italy (2000) and a Susan B. Anthony Award from the National Organization for Women (NOW) (1994), among others.

In 2002, Azara authored the book Spirit Taking Form: Making a Spiritual Practice of Making Art. [4]


Azara continues to teach workshops based on her development of “The Consciousness-Raising, Visual Diaries, Art Making” workshop at NYFAI. She also co-organizes REPRESENT,[5] a series of inter-generational dialogues to encourage discussion across generations about contemporary issues, for women in the arts and feminism(s) in the arts. The topics originate from the participants. Questions have included: What is feminist art? How should it be historicized? Personal definitions of “power” in your art, in life? How do you see yourself within the canon of white male artists? Everyone is welcome. She co-presented a paper on the topic with Katie Cercone at the 2012 CAA Conference in Los Angeles, "Necessary Positions: Intergenerational collaboration in feminist art and activism" and a panel Recovering a Lost Cultural Herstory 1969-1982: NYC Feminist Artists Speak Out, organized by Nancy Azara, Marjorie Kramer and Kay Turner with Prof. Aseel Sawalha, Ph D., Assoc. Prof. of Anthropology at Fordham University.

Writing on feminism and art[edit]

Azara has contributed to many publications on feminism and art including: "Our Journey to the New York Feminist Art Institute" (reprint) [6] "In Pursuit of the Divine" in 2003,[7] "Our Journey to the New York Feminist Art Institute." [8] "Spirit Taking Form: Making a Spiritual Practice of Making Art" in 2002,[9] "The Language of Art is Still Defined by Men" in 2015,[10]


  1. ^ Heresies
  2. ^ The New York Feminist Art Institute (NYFAI)
  3. ^ Consciousness- raising, Visual Diaries, Art Making
  4. ^ Nancy Azara, Spirit Taking Form: Making a Spiritual Practice of Making Art. (York Beach, Maine: Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC: 2002)
  6. ^ Nancy Azara and Darla Bjork, "Our Journey to the New York Feminist Art Institute", Entering the Picture: Judy Chicago, the Fresno Feminist Art Program and the Collective Visions of Women Artists, ed: Jill Fields, PhD, (Routledge, 2011)
  7. ^ "In Pursuit of the Divine", The Kensington and Winchester Papers: Painting, Sculpture and the Spiritual Dimension, (Oneiros Books, 2003)
  8. ^ Nancy Azara and Darla Bjork "Our Journey to the New York Feminist Art Institute", From Our Voices, ed. Laurel Lampela and Ed Chuck, (Kendall/Hunt Publications: 2003)
  9. ^ "Spirit Taking Form: Making a Spiritual Practice of Making Art", (Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC:2002)
  10. ^ "The Language of Art is Still Defined by Men"

External links[edit]