Nancy Graves was born in Massachusetts in 1940, graduating with an MFA from Yale University in 1964. Equally happy to work in print, paint or sculpture, much of Graves’s work was concerned with the natural world. She worked with Kenneth Tyler at Tyler Graphics in 1977 and 1981, completing several hand-coloured multimedia prints and a series of monoprints. The National Gallery holds a selection of her hand-coloured multimedia prints from 1977, all of which are titled according to the early medieval alphabet known as Ogham.
Graves’s use of this alphabet, which is thought to have been based on the principle of assigning each letter the name of a tree, reflects her interest in nature. The prints, which are reminiscent of the ancient stone carvings from which the alphabet was recovered, use a naive style achieved through etching into copper plates.
Last updated August 2015