M.L. Van Nice

M. L. Van Nice

Born 1945

Artist Details

Birth Place
Phonetic Spelling
ehm ehl van(n-eye-ss)
Artists’ Books; Installation Art
Places of Residence
Boston, Massachusetts
Corcoran School of Art, Washington, D.C.; 1972–76, George Washington University, Washington, D.C.
NMWA Exhibitions

Bound to Amaze: Inside a Book-Collecting Career, 2018
25 x 25: Artists’ Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts Collection, 2012
Trove: The Collection in Depth, 2011
Hard Copy: Book as Sculpture, 2009–10
Moveable Feast: The Book as Art, 2008
The Book as Art: Twenty Years of Artists’ Books from the National Museum of Women in the Arts, 2006–07
M.L. Van Nice: The Library at Wadi Ben Dagh, 2005
Insomnia: Landscapes of the Night, 2003
Temptations: Book as Art XIV, 2002–03
Book as Art XII: Artists’ Books from the Permanent Collection, 2000
Book as Art XI, 1999
Book as Art: Tenth Anniversary Exhibition, 1997
Book as Art VIII, 1996

About the Artist

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