Nancy's favorite childhood memories include being taken to painting classes at the Worcester Art Museum in Worcester, Massachusetts by her grandmother.
So, it's really no accident that the first time she felt like a "real artist" was in 1986 when a quilt that she made based on a photograph of the two of them was included in an exhibition called “Kaleidoscope of Quilts” in Oakland, California.
The quilt was included the following year in a show in San Jose's American Museum of Quilts.
Many more exhibitions followed.
Nancy was one of the lucky one's who was encouraged to make art by her teachers in school.
Over and over again, in her role as an arts educator, she witnesses the impact on others who were not so lucky. Many adults can name who it was that gave them the message that they couldn't make art... that they were "uncreative." Her goal is to undo those hurtful messages.
As an artist, my work is about bringing color and light into the world. As an educator, my goal is to empower others to take risks and to embrace their own creativity.
But alas, while her teacher's were filled with encouragement, the message she got at home was that the life of an artist is a very difficult one and that she should travel a more practical route.
Heeding familial concerns Nancy earned a degree in Occupational Therapy from Tufts University in 1979. Her interests in group process, community mental health, and geriatric care flourished at school and she brought that to her work in the field.
But the truth is that her love for art making and her enthusiasm for sharing that love couldn't be quelled.
With no formal training, Nancy found many opportunities to teach art--- at summer camps and even in a county jail.
After one rich period in the Saratoga Mountains of Northern California she found herself in the workshop of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt. That was in 1987.
Nancy knew she'd stepped into a very special place. She became part of its initial team of visionaries and she stayed for the next four years. Through her work at the Project, Nancy learned much about community--- about love and loss.
She was aware that thousands of creative lives were cut short by this horrific disease.
Over and over again she witnessed the transformative power of art making.
Then, one day in 1992 fate stepped in and Nancy's life changed forever.
She was introduced to a lovely couple in Healdsburg, California--- Michael Katz & Ellen Robin. At the time, Nancy was pondering what she could do to honor her mother's 70th birthday. It turns out that Michael was the manufacturer of Jacquard brand dyes for silk and suggested that Nancy make her mother a scarf.
Nancy took Michael's suggestion and immediately fell in love with silk painting.
Painting on silk became a vehicle for her to combine her passions of creating and teaching.
From then on she was committed to a life of art making and facilitating art making experiences for people of all ages and with groups of all sizes.
She quickly fell in love with the medium and could no longer not make art for her livelihood. Silk painting became her primary medium and art, art making, & sharing became her life's work.
A promotional piece created by Jerusalem based filmmaker Paula Weiman-Kelman in the 1990's shows Nancy's work at the time.
In November of 2005, fate appears to have once again stepped in to Nancy's life.
Nancy's booth was catty-corner to that of stained glass fabricator Mark Liebowitz at the URJ Biennial Conference in Houston, Texas--- a convention each had attended for many years but not yet met.
The two bonded quickly and shortly thereafter, Nancy Katz/Wilmark Studios was conceived.
They look forward to a long, creative time together.