Artist Spotlight: Victoria V. Nunley

Each artwork by Victoria Nunley starts with a story or memory from her adolescent years growing up in a rural part of New Jersey. Sometimes the story is specifically drawn from her childhood and other times it’s a familiar feeling like having to peel off a band-aid when you have hairy arms or going to the beach and not wanting to show skin.

 Gouaches and drawings hanging in Nunley's studio.

Gouaches and drawings hanging in Nunley's studio.

Nunley’s paintings begin with a drawing of her concept which develops into a small gouache painting. While she plans 80 percent of the artwork, Nunley noted that it is hard to predict the end result of a larger painting: “When something gets scaled up so big, suddenly there’s room for even more things to happen— intensifying color, compressing or pushing space, jokes. That’s why scaling up and doing a bigger painting can be so exciting.”

V.V’s flat, cartoonish visual style speaks to her themes of the life and times of her generation. Her aesthetic pulls in the audiences; sprinkling idioms the majority of people can pick up on, which solidifies her humor in a very authentic manner. Nunley uses her experiences, both first and second hand, as anchor points for her work. She often reminisces with her best friends, who grew up with her, about their past. They find humor in times during the teenage years that seemed as if the world was falling apart. They recollect on first kisses, spreading and hearing gossip, bad advice columns in magazines, each remembering the story slightly different from each other. Nunley reflects on these moments, emphasizing that “these stories only exist through verbal retelling, and through my work”. 

In her work HOT GOSSIP, the viewer witnesses the exact moment a friend bursts into the other’s home, catching the other completely off guard and startling her. Phone in hand, blurting out the latest gossip, Nunley says the inspiration was drawn from moments of her friends rushing into her home, saying things like “Did you hear Hannah wants to fight Jen because of Tommy?!”  or, “Did you hear Dawn drove her car into someone’s house?!” Upon closer examination, the details of the poor advice magazine, hair barrettes, clothing and nail polish subconsciously inform us of the subjects age.

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While at first glance the viewers may laugh at the dramatic scenes and exaggerated expressions, Nunley wants her subjects to be taken seriously. Just like real teenagers, they are completely genuine in their feelings. Rather than the viewers oversimplifying or brushing off the subject’s emotions, Nunley emphasizing that these adolescents do not have the hindsight that the viewers do.

A MFA candidate at Boston University, Nunley's desire to be an artist predates her memory. Drawing inspiration genres such as manga, anime and cartoons, she also cites the work of artists like Mark Thomas Gibson, Sanya Kantarovsky and Jane Corrigan, among other influencers. 

Join us on January 21st for a live painting by Victoria V. Nunley from 11 - 4 pm. More details available here!