"The most important muse of all is our own inner child"
Nancy grew up in an artistic and musical family. Her maternal grandfather wrote popular music and recorded a number of his songs. Her mother, Ruth, attended the Art Institute of Chicago and studied painting and drawing. While growing up, Nancy played piano and organ. She also created many 3D works from paper and cardboard and also sang and acted in neighborhood productions. She has fond and magic memories of visiting the Thorne rooms and the Colleen More Dollhouse in the museums of Chicago.
In her first career as a teacher, she taught Paideia school children basic education concepts using art, dance and movement. Her love of architecture and built environments led her to pursue a degree at Georgia Tech and a career in urban planning, historic preservation, and economic development. After 30 years working in her field, she retired to continue her artistic interests in the international art form of miniature making.
Always curious and inquisitive, she studied with many master miniaturists, such as: Michael Reynolds, Ron Hubble, Rik Pierce, Tish Tierney and Fred Cobbs. She has exhibited her work at The Atlanta Miniature Society's annual show for the past 5 years, and her work resides in the homes of some of Atlanta's art collectors. She is a member of the National Association of Miniature Enthusiasts and The Atlanta Miniature Society.
Starting by creating examples of her family history, including an exact replica of her great grandfather's Chicago butcher shop and paternal grandparents' country church, she continues to tell stories in the varied miniature works that she creates. Being an educator like her paternal grandmother, who taught in a one room school house, Nancy is also passionate about teaching people about the incredible history and art form of miniatures.
Forever a child at heart, she enjoys creating the stories, travels, fantasies and imaginary world that miniatures can recreate. As a miniaturist, she creates worlds, not just single scale objects. She collects the miniature work of many national and international artists, some of which she incorporates in her own work.
In addition to creating miniatures, Nancy has been married for over 40 years to her cosmic travelling companion, Harold Shumacher. Together, they have one daughter, Stephanie, who with her husband, Peter, have created two beautiful grand daughters, Willa and Reese.
A History of Miniatures
Miniatures have long existed as reminders of human activity, culture and history. Dating back to the Egyptians, many miniature representations of the life and wealth of pharaohs and queens have been found in the tombs and pyramids of great rulers.
Religious artifacts that depict the gods and goddesses of many world cultures throughout history are found in miniature form. In the far east, early forms of miniatures were the portraits of sultans and kings, and the tradition of miniature portraiture in 1500's Europe was very popular long before photography was invented. Most of these miniatures were used by people of wealth and education and served to show the importance of the owner.
Medieval illuminated manuscripts were some of the earliest miniature representations and existed long before the printing press. Through history, miniature manuscripts were made to ease and hide the transport of important and secretive documents during war and other treacherous times. And some of the earliest miniatures were collections of soldiers that were used in strategic exercises. Think of chess and the pieces acting as a modern-day miniature war game.
During the 17th century, we find miniature houses also known as cabinet houses, especially among the Dutch, Germans and English. In the very beginning, these houses were exact replicas of the owner's house and were owned only among the wealthy showing their social status and class. Besides being a symbol of wealth, they also served as teaching tools for the domestic help of these stately homes.
In the Victorian era, dollhouses gradually begin to be produced as toys and model trains begin to be used in window displays. But it was after World War II that dollhouses began to be mass produced, and trains made in various scales became available to the general public.
Think of your own youth and what miniature you may have played with or learned from. Today, there is a resurgence of interest in miniatures not only as toys, but once again as sophisticated art forms produced by artists from Europe, Asia and North America.