Artist Nancy Cato is a Black Woman who bravely revealed the happiness and heartache of growing up as a Tom-boy. For her first Solo exhibit she went deep into her past to capture the emotions that came along with a kid who was just being herself but was called a Tom-boy. Nancy didn’t know what a Tom-boy was so she didn’t realize that she was being identified as being different. Once she learned that a label was being applied to her she was hurt. For “TOM-BOY she looked at her life’s memories both fun and painful with the space to forgive.
Growing up in New Haven, Connecticut she ran with a “crew” of five kids which included her younger brother. She was the leader but the only girl and was thought of as just one of the boys. She had perfected an androgynous style of her own at an early age. Her hair was braided into two simple pulled back corn-rows; she wore tee-shirts, jeans and sneakers. She wasn’t interested in girly, activities, things or clothes and had no female friends. When Nancy reached her adolescent years her brother kicked her out of their crew because the guys were beginning to view her as a woman rather than just one of the boys.
Cato is an illustrator. She has always created doodles or drawings. As a child she’d inherited an artist uncle’s sketchbook and was influenced by his work. She sometimes uses herself as a model, giving her illustrations their lifelike quality. All of her works are created old-school. Cato uses sketches, transfer paper, photocopies, carbon paper and pencil before inking her images on heavy French made drawing paper. A college professor suggested that she be true to what she brings to the table. With few words and a lot of spirit Cato creates works which captures the joys, pains and challenges of being different.
Being tall has always been a clothing challenge for her. Nancy still prefers menswear for fit, style and durability. Cato describes her personal style today as “Carhartt Casual”. She says that her father was a sharp dresser who always completed his fashionable outfits with a hat. Over time Nancy developed what is currently known as a fashion-flexible look for herself.
Cato embodies the essence of a Tom-boy in her own way with thought provoking works of art that uniquely addresses being different, identity, fashion, gender, roles, and perception.
TOM-BOY is on exhibit through September 18, 2014 at the Sargent Johnson Gallery in the African American Art & Culture Complex, 672 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 Info: http://www.aaacc.org/index.html
CONTACT Nancy Cato: http://email@example.com
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