Monday, Sept. 28
STOCKBRIDGE — “She has a beautiful sense of line,” went the compliment, which is not your average, everyday compliment.
But Barbara Nessim is not your average, everyday artist. Nessim’s work has been shown in galleries from SoHo to Tokyo, and her illustrations have graced the covers of Rolling Stone, Time and The New York Times Magazine.
Nessim, a native New Yorker, is now making a big impression in the Berkshires, where she has been named the Norman Rockwell Museum’s first artist laureate.
That honor was officially bestowed upon the internationally known artist, illustrator and educator during a Saturday ceremony at the Stockbridge museum, where a selection of her work is now on view.
“She is very forward-thinking about the ways people and art intersect,” said Stephanie Plunkett, the Norman Rockwell Museum’s chief curator and the person who praised Nessim in the opening line of this report.
In fact, Plunkett’s precise words were, “Her work is very graphic in its feel. She has a beautiful sense of line.”
A digital art pioneer, Nessim helped shape the MFA Computer Arts Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and she was chairperson of Illustration at Parsons School of Design for a dozen years. Most recently, Nessim has been commissioned to create several large-scale works for various building lobbies in Manhattan.
Coinciding with the Rockwell exhibition, Nessim’s work is also on view at The Sienna Gallery in Lenox.
“We are honored to award our inaugural Artist Laureate to Barbara Nessim,” said Laurie Norton Moffatt, the museum’s director and chief executive officer.
“The commendation of this award recognizes Barbara’s exceptional skills as an influential visual communicator and an early visionary in the digital arts,” she said.
Nessim will hold the honorary position for one year, after which a new artist laureate will be chosen. The position is also advisory in nature, meaning Nessim will confer with Rockwell officials while continuing to bolster the museum’s mission to advance public knowledge and appreciation of the art of Norman Rockwell and the craft of illustration “within aesthetic and cultural contexts.”
The award was presented to Nessim on behalf of the museum’s new Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, which is the nation’s first research institute devoted to the art of illustration. The center’s mission, according to museum officials, is to establish a context for understanding the role of illustration in “shaping and reflecting American culture” by creating new online research tools; making collections more accessible; supporting scholarship; and spurring the collection and preservation of important works of art.
Plunkett said Nessim’s cutting-edge style fits perfectly with the museum’s push to offer innovative exhibits, such as last year’s “LitGraphic: the World of the Graphic Novel.”
“She’s very active on the issue of how illustration connects with people today,” Plunkett said.
For an online sample of Nessim’s work, log on to www.barbaranessim.com. To learn more about the Norman Rockwell Museum and its new Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, go to www.nrm.org and www.rcavs.org, respectively.
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