M. L. Van Nice

Born 1945

Influenced deeply by the work of El Greco and Marcel Duchamp, M. L. Van Nice transforms objects into works of art, creating new poetic and visual context.

She rummages through garbage and roams markets and estate sales in search of art material and treasures. Many of these items can be found in her unique book-objects and book installations. Van Nice often works with wood and paper, undertaking projects including a clock and typewriter. She has challenged history and the belligerent nature of man by presenting an installation of artifacts from never-fought wars (Artifacts of the Anglo-Armenian Wars) that included a handmade cannon.

Van Nice attended George Washington University, graduating with a degree in philosophy. As she explains her decision to study philosophy, “I was a serious existentialist, interested in what is the meaning of life. I understood early on that art is a serious undertaking—it comes from philosophy and from experience.”

In 2005, Van Nice created an installation for NMWA of an imaginary library, The Library at Wadi ben Dagh, in praise of the masterpieces of world literature, allowing viewers to experienced Shakespeare, Baudelaire, Proust, Lewis Carroll, and James Joyce, as three-dimensional book-sculptures. Van Nice’s art represents scholarship combined with a whimsical and unbound imagination.

National Museum of Women in the Arts