Abby Lloyd’s interview with her Aunt Nancy

Aunt Nancy Big Family, circa 1963-1968, pen and crayon on paper, 9 x 12 inches + frame

Contributed by Joshua Abelow / “Abby’s Room” is a show at Freddy in Harris, New York, featuring Abby Lloyd’s new sculptures and childhood drawings by her Aunt Nancy. “When my grandma died in 2015, my family and I began cleaning out her house,” Lloyd writes in her artist’s statement. “That’s when I found my Aunt Nancy’s ‘family drawings’ tucked away in a closet. From age 10 to 15, Nancy produced hundreds of drawings of make-believe families. The drawings have a Darger-esque quality – bizarre, compulsive, and funny. Nancy’s work captures the desires that most children have: to grow up, to fall in love, to have friends, to fit in.” The following is an interview Lloyd conducted with her aunt about the trove of artwork that inspired the work in this show. 

Aunt Nancy Antonio, circa 1963-1968, pen and pencil on paper, 8 x 10.5 inches + frame
Installation View

Abby Lloyd: Do you500彩票网手机版官网 remember when you500彩票网手机版官网 first started to make drawings of families?

Aunt Nancy: Yes, when we moved to North Babylon [Long Island] in 1963. I was 10 years old.

AL: Were the families based on families that you500彩票网手机版官网 knew or families that you500彩票网手机版官网 saw on TV or what?

AN: The families were always made up, always make believe. If a person happened to look like someone I knew, then I would give them that name. But I never drew people I knew on purpose. A family from one drawing could be cousins or friends with a family from another drawing. I would talk for them. I had a whole thing going on.

AL: Do you500彩票网手机版官网 remember why you500彩票网手机版官网 started drawing families? Were you500彩票网手机版官网 inspired by something?

AN: I loved the Sears catalogue. I would sit in my backyard, look at the Sears catalogue, and talk to my imaginary friends about the people in the photos. I would go through the catalogue picking out outfits for my imaginary friends to wear. I know it sounds crazy! I would talk to them and make up stories

I’ve always loved families and movies and books about big families. When I was a little girl my favorite book was, ‘The Family that Nobody Wanted.’ It was based on a real family; a husband and wife who couldn’t have children so they adopted many children of different nationalities. It might have inspired me to make the drawings, but I can’t remember. I had the book, in mint condition, but I think my ‘ex-husband’ threw it away when he cleaned the garage out. It’s a real shame because I looked it up online and they were selling it for $1,000!

Aunt Nancy, Hey Tits, circa 1963-1968, pen and pencil on paper, 6 x 9 inches + frame
Aunt Nancy, Teen Girls, circa 1963-1968, pen and crayon on paper, 8 x 10 inches + frame

AL: Was it something you500彩票网手机版官网 did privately?

AN: Yes, I would sit in my bedroom. I only drew them in my bedroom. I would sit on my Kelly green comforter and make up these families. I would sharpen my colored pencils until the tips were very sharp and then I would draw. I loved colored pencils, I’ve loved colorful things all my life.

AL: Did you500彩票网手机版官网 show you500彩票网手机版官网r parents or you500彩票网手机版官网r siblings you500彩票网手机版官网r drawings?

AN: I’m not sure, I think my mother knew?

AL: Did you500彩票网手机版官网 show you500彩票网手机版官网r friends?

AN: I’m not sure, I don’t think I showed anybody.

AL: Did you500彩票网手机版官网 ever draw you500彩票网手机版官网r own family?

AN: No, not like this.

AL: Were you500彩票网手机版官网 encouraged to make art?

AN: I’m not sure.

AL: Did you500彩票网手机版官网 feel like you500彩票网手机版官网 were making art when you500彩票网手机版官网 made you500彩票网手机版官网r drawings?

AN: Yes.

AL: When did you500彩票网手机版官网 stop making the family drawings

AN: I think I was 15.

Abby Lloyd: Do you500彩票网手机版官网 still make art? Do you500彩票网手机版官网 ever make sketches or doodles?

AN: Yes, sometimes. I work at a preschool and I draw houses and flowers for the kids. They all ask me, ‘Please, please make us a drawing?!’ I’m the only teacher that will do it. I like to do it.

Aunt Nancy, Mentally Ill Gail, circa 1963-1968, pen on paper, 8 x 11 inches + frame
Installation View

Lloyd told me that after working at an Estée Lauder factory on Long Island for 38 years, Nancy moved to Florida where she is a preschool teacher to children of migrant field workers. She has three adult children and lives with her daughter, granddaughter, ten cats, five dogs, and one cow. 

For the show at Freddy, she made a series of “Shy Girl” sculptures that are based on a craft known as “Shy Dolls” or “Time Out Dolls,” which are intended to look like real children and often evoke a double take when discovered by surprise. She always found them kind of spooky when she was growing up and they seem like perfect companion pieces to Aunt Nancy’s earnest drawings.

Aunt Nancy, Tween Girls, circa 1963-1968, pen and crayon on paper, 8 x 10 inches + frame
Aunt Nancy, Carol’s Kids, circa 1963-1968, pen on paper, 9 x 12 inches + frame

,” Freddy Gallery, Harris, NY. Through August 11. NOTE: The exhibition is on view by appointment only. For more information (including exact location), please contact info@500彩票网手机版官网freddygallery.biz

About the author:, painter and founder of , is the director of Freddy Gallery. Look for his forthcoming solo shows at  ,  1819 3rd Ave, Los Angeles, CA, in September,  and at in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.

In Brooklyn: “Freddy’s World” curated by Joshua Abelow and Freddy, with Cynthia Eardley, Ted Gahl, Mary Jane Hanja, Abby Lloyd, Jesse Sullivan, and Thornton Willis, Suzanne Blank Redstone, Stewart Hitch, Tom Bronk, David Cummings, Irena Jurek, William King, and Maddy Parrasch.  , 238 Wilson Ave, Brooklyn, NY. July 18 through September 8, 2019.

Related posts:
Books: Joshua Abelow’s 1999
Part I: Where is Joshua Abelow?
Part 2: Joshua Abelow’s painting process

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