Unlocking: A Memoir of Family and Art

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Product Details
$16.95  $15.76
She Writes Press
Publish Date
5.4 X 8.4 X 0.8 inches | 0.65 pounds

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About the Author
Nancy L. Pressly, a graduate of Goucher College, received her master's degree in Art History from Columbia University. She began her career at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and subsequently held curatorial positions at the Yale Center for British Art and the San Antonio Museum of Art, where she organized several important exhibitions, most notably the acclaimed Fuseli Circle in Rome: Early Romantic Art of the 1770s. In 1984 she became Assistant Director of the Museum Program at the National Endowment for the Artsin 1992 was a visiting Senior Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Visual Arts; and in 1993 she founded Nancy L. Pressly & Associates, a nationally recognized consulting firm specializing in strategic planning for art museums. She has authored numerous publications, most recently a a book titled Settling the South Carolina Backcountry. She and her husband live in Atlanta, Georgia, close to their son and two grandchildren.
2021 Next Generation Indie Book Awards Finalist in Memoirs (Career)

"This is a woman of extraordinary passion and enormous energies. The test of a person (and for that matter, a marriage) is how the individual handles and overcomes the challenges of life. Pressly time and again passes the test with flying colors in this candid memoir. A side benefit: the illuminating chapters devoted to her thoughts on what it means to experience great works of art....The author is a truly marvelous guide on a tour literally around the world...A wrenchingly honest account that deftly combines a marriage story and an art tour."
--Kirkus Reviews

"Exceptionally well written, organized, and presented, Unlocking: A Memoir of Family and Art is an inherently interesting and engaging life story told with an impressive composure and candor."
--Midwest Book Review

"Nancy L. Pressly's sensitive memoir, Unlocking, concerns the power of images to release memories, tell stories, and inspire future generations. . . . Love and loss play out as Pressly navigates her inner and outer worlds, revealing both strength and vulnerability."
--Foreword Clarion Reviews

"This is an unflinchingly honest memoir, written with the clarity and powerful visual sense of an art historian. Particularly vivid are the retrieval of [Pressly's] childhood memories through letters, diaries, and photographs. . . . Her career as art historian, curator, and arts administrator offer fascinating insights. But above all, this is a memoir about her love of family and her own evolution as a person. Finishing it, you realize you have been privileged to get to know a remarkably gifted and indomitable spirit."
--Tom Dunne, author of Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize winner Rebellions: Memoir, Memory, and 1798

"In her searching and compassionate memoir, this keenly sensitive writer, noted art historian, and curator . . . tells how her own near-fatal illness allowed her to unlock her painfully lost girlhood with clear vision and empathy . . . . With Unlocking, she proves herself a woman of the deepest human insight."
--Kate Moses, author of Cakewalk, A Memoir and Wintering

"In this clairvoyant and heart-warming memoir, Nancy L. Pressly shares her arduous path through the thickets of memory to reveal a remarkable and uplifting account of a woman who defined herself through positive energy and love. Guided by an agile intelligence and an eye for detail, honed by years in art history as scholar, curator, and consultant, Pressly animates memories long obscured by disappointments and losses. She makes the intensely personal universally compelling. We learn from her story how we might tackle the labyrinth of our own paradoxes."
--June Hargrove, author of Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) and recipient of the Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters

"In this memoir, Nancy Pressly shares a lifetime of intense experiences. Her extraordinarily careful and evocative descriptions of personal relationships, works of art, and places enrich this powerful autobiographical essay. Definitely worth reading more than once!"
--Ellen G. Miles, art historian and author

"Inspired by resilience and renewal, commitment and perseverance, love and trust--themes that are instantly relatable--Unlocking is an exquisite articulation of personal and professional stories, shared through the lens of someone who is deeply passionate about the connections between art and life. However, it is her commitment to learning, at each distinctive stage in life, that is the true lesson for all readers."
--Allison Perkins, executive director of the Reynolda House Museum of American Art

"Nancy Pressly's revealing personal journey is a powerful inspiration. Uncovering childhood memories and family history, battling physical challenges, acknowledging and owning the roles of wife and mother, researcher, and accomplished arts administrator--all underscore a passionate life hard-earned and well-lived. Artfully written, her life story is a compassionate reminder of the power within to remain positive through adversity and obstacles, to stay true to oneself, and, above all, to embrace love of art, self, and family."
--Andrea Snyder, cofounder/codirector of American Dance Abroad and former assistant director of NEA Dance Program

"Pressly weaves a compelling memoir, revealing a history that extends across generations and time. Elegantly composed, Unlocking shares a deeply personal evolution. Pressly's story exemplifies the professional and personal challenges so many women confront, while showing how beauty and love can redeem those struggles."
--Stephanie Heydt, Margaret and Terry Stent Curator of America Art, High Museum of Art