Artists use muses, but rarely are they as unique as Oh Nancy. Three Boston-based artists—Fionn McCabe, Nate Wellman and Arthur Henderson—founded a national art collective to create work around an ever-evolving, modern-day Americana myth, filled with iconic and relatable characters. After four years, its current residency/multimedia exhibition, The Hideout, features work from more than 30 Boston and Salt Lake City artists and Visual Art Institute students, and is Garfo’s biggest endeavor yet.
Nancy, an adolescent girl with supernatural powers, was born of Great Crow and King of the Sea, then reared by seals and is currently hunted by The Preacher. She’s rescued by heroic football player Bill Oolie—member of the Corn Team—and taken to The Hideout to plan an epic escape. That’s just the story’s foundation; future directions are endless as artists build upon past works. And they’ve had a field day while generally creating within the perspectives of new or pre-existing characters or group identities.
The exhibit starts at “The Beach”—where Nancy grew up—with a rock inscribed with iconic imagery crafted by VAI elementary school students. “The Locker Room” is stocked with Corn Team uniforms made for interactivity, nine newly created players’ lockers designed by VAI high school students and the “Who is Bill Oolie?” video by local Allison Baar. “The Hideout,” however, is the centerpiece, with works by both Boston and local artists, including Trent Call, Jared Steffensen and Mary Toscano.
Visit during VAI class times (Monday-Thursday 4:30-6:30 p.m.), or call in an appointment for a guided tour that will shed more light on this exhibit’s complexity and each piece’s back story and beauty.