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Nancy Wood

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Biography

Nancy Wood was one of the great literary and visual artists of the American West. She published 32 award winning books in the genres of poetry, fiction, non-fiction, children’s, and photography. Nancy received an NEA Literature Fellowship, the Frank Waters Lifetime Achievement Award, and two awards from the Mountain and Plains Booksellers Association. In 2007 she won one of Southwestern photography’s highest honors from the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for her book EYE OF THE WEST.

She began her photographic career in 1962 when she met the legendary Roy Stryker, director of the FSA photography project in the 1930s. The FSA employed such photographic giants as Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, Russell lee, John Vachon, and Walker Evans. Wood worked with Stryker for the next ten years, producing the classic IN THIS PROUD LAND, published by The New York Graphic Society in 1975. He taught her what he called “the art of seeing.”

In 1974 Wood set off on her own, documenting rural Colorado for her book THE GRASS ROOTS PEOPLE, published by Harper and Row. She shot over 12,000 negatives. She applied the techniques that Stryker had taught her. (One dictum was that a photograph has to have three things: a person, an artifact, and a sign.) Many of Wood’s images are reminiscent of the work of Doratha Lange, and Russel lee. Indeed she considers them her heroes.

In 1984 she came to the Taos pueblo to document a friend’s traditional Indian wedding. She stayed five years, making an in depth record of a secretive and shy people in her book TAOS PUEBLO, published by Alfred A. Knopf. These un-posed, unaffected images, some 10,000 in all, are among the best in the collection.

Nancy passed away in March 2013. The University of New Mexico acquired her literary and photographic archives for an undisclosed sum. For more information about her please visit www.NancyWood.com .