Bringing Her In

Posted: August 20, 2013

“Bringing Her In,” (left) a work by Nancy Stark of Roanoke, is part of the exhibit “Train Shapes and More” hosted by Bridgewater Retirement Community through September. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R)
Bridgewater Retirement Community will host "Train Shapes and More," an exhibit by Nancy Stark of Roanoke, through September. (Photo by Michael Reilly / DN-R)

Nancy Stark’s art exhibit, “Train Shapes and More,” is currently on display in the Houff Community Center at Bridgewater Retirement Community.

“We’re delighted to have Nancy’s [show] up,” Rhonda Collins, Village Activities Coordinate at Bridgewater Retirement Community, said. “She’s very talented.”

However, Stark’s road to becoming an artist is not a traditional one. As a special education teacher and a mother of three, Stark was looking for something fun to do for herself, and enrolled in a watercolor class at Blue Ridge Community College in 1983. “That was the first time I put brush to paper, and I haven’t put the brush down since.”

She calls her process as an artist a journey, and is excited to share this particular show that serves as a retrospective. The multimedia exhibit includes paintings of trains and large scale florals, collage and mixed media, from some of her earliest works to more recent pieces.

“It has a little bit of this and a lot of that,” Stark said, showcasing her ability to work with different subjects and multiple mediums.

But the main focus of this exhibit, and her work overall, continues to be trains — a love she adopted from her husband and late father-in-law.

“One day, [my husband and I] stopped to look at trains and there’s a step on the train that casts a shadow with neat shapes and patterns,” Stark explained. “And I thought ‘Why are you not painting that?’ It’s all about shapes, patterns and textures.”

Those patterns and shapes are what drive her work and focus her renderings. “In composing my subject, I zoom in for a close-up view [and] the viewer is invited to enjoy the artwork and fill in the missing pieces,” Stark says in her artist statement.

But in the shadows, there’s a deep meaning. In several of her pieces, Stark includes meaningful items from her life — a handwritten note from her father-in-law or photographs her mother took — bringing her art “full-circle.”

“I like when I can incorporate something that has meaning to me into the artwork,” Stark said of her pieces, which exemplify her transformation as an artist.

“I have a lot of people to thank for this journey,” Stark said. “I don’t have an art education and I don’t know art history but I have studied with a lot of different, current artists and each class I take influences me.”

Calling this second career “the best therapy in the world,” Stark remains passionate about her journey and continues to be involved with other artists.

She is co-owner of Signature 9, a gallery in downtown Roanoke, and spends her spare time making art in her unfinished basement.

“There’s always something to learn,” she said of life as an artist. “For me, making art is truly a process, an exciting, challenging journey that has filled my life with friendships and peace.”

Contact Sarah Stacy at (540) 574-6292 or

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