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Zoe Nelson

Studio Building
Studio Interior
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Studio Location
4 Unwinding, 20" x 16", Oil on Canvas
Unwinding #15, 20" x 16", Oil on Canvas
Unwinding #3, 20" x 16", Oil on Canvas
Unwinding (26th B-Day), 20" x 16", Oil on Canvas
Unwinding #10, 20" x 16", Oil on Canvas
Artist's Statement

One of my earliest memories is of obsessively organizing paint chips from a local hardware store. Color and obsession are essential elements in my practice. I work serially in order to create rules that I must follow. I've spent the past months unwinding from Columbia's MFA program by making a series of paintings about just that. I started the Unwinding Series after a frustrating studio day when I found myself writing “unwinding” on a painting. I’ve been thinking about the many meanings of unwinding, such as undoing, falling apart, surrendering, and failing. Linguistically, the word itself has meaningless/contradictory words within it: un-, win, wind, in (twice!), ding, and winding. I draw on humor and awkward absurdity to destabilize physical and psychological spaces. By making emotive paintings that undo themselves structurally, I hope that the paintings surrender to this process, so much so that out of the unwinding grows a becoming.


Zoe Nelson (born 1983) lives and works in New York and received her MFA from Columbia University in May 2009. Upon receiving her BA from Barnard College in 2006, Zoe was awarded the Josephine Paddock Post-Baccalaureate Fellowship which allowed her to spend four months in Pont-Aven Brittany, at the Pont-Aven School of Contemporary Art. In 2005, Zoe attended Yale's Norfolk Summer Program.

For Zoe's full resume please visit her website: