Victoria V Nunley was born and raised in New Jersey. She actually can’t remember a time before she knew she wanted to be an artist. In fact, she drew a horse when she was just two and a half years old “and honestly, it was pretty good”. She earned her BA from Brandeis University in 2014, and went on to earn her MFA from Boston University in 2018. She landed on the tone of her paintings while enrolled in Brandeis University’s post-baccalaureate program. She was in the middle of making probably a hundred bad paintings in a row when one of her professors remarked that one of them was hilarious; it wasn’t meant to be funny, of course, she was trying to be a serious painter and serious painters are supposed to make serious paintings about serious things. But with that one comment, she realised that she had been fighting against her own sensibilities — namely her own sense of humour. She had mistaken what it actually meant to be serious about painting.
Within this series of paintings Nunley demonstrates a Wild West theme – “it's new for me to have themed paintings, but it has afforded a lot of freedom and creativity.” It's probably no surprise that she watches a lot of cartoons and animation. She is especially fond of shorts from the golden age of American animation and contemporary Japanese anime, giving her a lot of interesting ideas about composition and transformation. They also often play with visual gags that could only exist in a two-dimensional world. So marrying the wild west with these visual languages has stirred up a lot of really exciting visuals.
“When I think of the west I think of the old west, the wild west. Open horizon, relentless sun, harsh elements, utter solitude. Unreachable except by pony express or telegraph maybe— yes, this is the kind of setting I would like to tell a story in.” Through Victoria V Nunley’s remarkable series the protagonist appears alone within her paintings, not another person in sight. The interaction of the protagonist with any other character (a snake, a bird, a watermelon, even the moon) is marked by strife and struggle. She demonstrates an external conflict and beneath, an internal one. She uses an axe to slice a watermelon, which is the wrong way to do it but we have to acknowledge she does achieve the goal. She picks a fight with the moon which she’s destined to loose, and so she will eventually have to accept the unchangeable. She smokes three cigarettes at once as she worries, as if worrying three times as hard will somehow change anything. “So I am telling a story about our lone hero wrestling and coping and struggling until she feels okay again.