My still life work evolved out of my Fine Art Photography and Documentary Project began in

2021 which focused on the once notoriously contaminated Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New

York. I photographed moving compositions floating by in the canal sludge including decaying

fish, birds, organic matter, blossoms, industrial debris, plastic wrappers, insects, leaves,

human waste and contamination. Eventually I moved into the studio with the collected

materials where I had more control over light and composition. This began a series of still

life work concerned with environmental catastrophe, our perverse relationship with nature

and beauty and life and death from a surrealist perspective. This work is influenced by the

poetry found in Victorian Post-Mortem photography and 17th Century Dutch paintings of

Vanitas and Nature Morte. The 2020 isolation of the Covid pandemic quarantine dovetailed

with my own sense of surrealism and horror. Out of isolation I began photographing the

captive Baboons at the Prospect Park Zoo as a metaphor and as a subject. I’m a loner, but I

missed looking at people on the street and subways during lockdown so daily visits to the

primates and shooting candid portraits was much more pleasurable that photographing

humans, they posed, primped and carried on relationships with me, a performance they

may have developed in captivity but usually one of pathos and joy.

I learned black and white film photography in a then Conceptual Art school in the 80’s and

now use digital to move freely through multiple genres including candid street,

architectural, traditional landscape as well as still life. My work is always about the same

theme regardless of subject matter. It’s about extremes in beauty, the bipolarity of mania

and depression, decay and disgust, sensuality hatred, benevolence and humor through

pictures and always with natural light. My goal is to capture psychological surrealism of life

and death, dark and light, cruelty disguised as joy and in the end. hope to have, if not a

vestige of the zeitgeist of our time in history, at least a souvenir.

I always use two identical Nikon 5600 bodies with different lenses and settings.


Nancy Oliveri is an American artist born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1958. She attended

Hartford Art School in the early 80’s where she studied film and photography and has lived

and worked in New York City since. Her 9 self-published books and projects have been the

recipients of numerous international awards and honors including in the Tokyo International

Foto Awards, the Paris PX3- Prix de la Photographie, the Julia Margaret Cameron Awards in

Berlin and Barcelona and the Urban Street Awards in Trieste, Italy among others. Exhibition

highlights include her Covid project The Space Between project which was included in the

New York Responds Exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York in 2021, the Women

Street Photography Exhibition at PS 109 El Barrio in New York City in 2021 and is featured in

the Julia Margaret Cameron 17th Award Exhibition at the Foto Nostrom Gallery in Barcelona,

Spain opening December 9th 2020


IG @Nancy_Oliveri_Photography