Artwork by Nancy Charak

Artist in Focus

Although I was born and raised near Lake Michigan in Chicago, I feel most at home in Tucson and the Sonoran Desert. I always knew I’d be an artist. My father was an artist, and my mother was a creative person, so my childhood was infused with artistic expression and sensibility. When I was 7 years old, my father gave me a Yashica TLR camera. We processed the film together in our home darkroom. At age 11, my parents enrolled me in the Art Institute of Chicago children’s art classes. We always had paper pencils and paints around the house. Seriously, it never occurred to me that I would do anything else.

Working out of a small studio in the historic Steinfeld Warehouse in Tucson, I perform simple daily rituals: fill my dog’s water bowl, organize my workspace with the day’s tools, and give thanks for the new day.

Art is my life. I am in love with the tactility of art, I love the way it feels to hold a pencil, to pull it across a deliciously smooth sheet of paper. I love seeing the ways the inks, oils, watercolors move, shine, stain and mark paper and canvas. I love the way they smell. I love that I have at least 1,000 pencils, and still I want more.

To me, the truest part of the creative process is the leap into the unknown. To dare to make something never seen before, transcending the constraints of materials, past history, and cultural expectations.

Nancy in Focus



BFA in Photography and Design, University of Illinois, Chicago, IL

MFA in Painting and Drawing, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, IL



“On the Desert | the Discovery and Invention of Color” Juried Exhibition - Tohono Chul Gallery, Tucson, AZ (2020)

 “Arizona Aqueous” Juried Exhibition -Tubac Center for the Arts, Tubac, AZ (2018 and 2019)

“The Art of Planetary Science” - Kuiper Space Sciences Building, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ (2019)

“Renewal and Spiritualism”, Tucson Jewish Community Center, Tucson, AZ (2019)

“Planar Violations” Solo Show - Cornelia Arts Building, Chicago, IL (2018)

“Planar Violations II” Solo Show - Steinfeld Arts Warehouse, Tucson, AZ (2018)

“What’s Abstract?” -Chicago State University, Chicago, IL (2013)

“The Personal is Political, The Transformative Power of Women’s Art” Juried Exhibition - Koehnline Museum of Art, Des Plaines, IL (2012)

“Bare Essentials: Minimalism in the 21st Century” Juried Exhibition - Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL (2011)

“Drawing on Experience” Solo Show - Woman Made Gallery, Chicago, IL (2008)



Residency Studios Midwest - Galesburg Civic Art Center, Galesburg IL (2018)

Abstract Art Competition - Santa Rita Art League, Green Valley AZ (2018)

“An Introduction to Women Abstract Expressionists”- Presentation, Contemporary Artists of Southern Arizona (2018)

“Women Abstract Expressionists,” “Greatest Artist Ever,” and “Art and Evil” – Researcher and Group Leader, The University of Arizona, Continuing and Professional Education (2014 – 2016)


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