Mary McAuley
Exhibition in Oaxaca
In 2003, Nancy had a two person exhibition with Rebecca Wolfram at the Casa de la Cultura Oaxaqueña in Oaxaca, Mexico. The exhibition was a key marker in her gradual move to Mexico.
Down the Street
Another marker was her intense study of Spanish. She began in Honduras, initially claiming that she was hopeless – as she had been in Italian. Yet, she became so adept at the language that she negotiated the purchase and renovation of a home in the historic district of Oaxaca, and she handled all of her cancer diagnoses and treatments in Mexico City. She also delighted native speakers with her made-up Spanish terms, often bawdy.
Beautiful Table
A beautiful table on her front patio.
Her Car
Her decades-old Volkswagen with the cow voodoo parking doll on the dash. The pink bougainvillea graces the front entry off the street.
Centuries-old viaduct across the street from her front door.
Vibrant Life
Nancy had always been restless. She constantly looked for “Home.” For a while, her building in Chicago had been that home. But after she turned fifty, the ache for something else became more consuming. She loved the zany, the silly, and plastic. She wanted to be surrounded by a riot of noise, pageantry, and color. Nancy found this in Mexico, first in Juchitán and then in Oaxaca.
Periodically, Nancy would return to Connorsville to see her mother, Mary who died in 2011. The vinyl sided house that Nancy had known for so many decades was in such contrast to life in Mexico.

Nancy continued to visit and live part time in her Chicago loft, but these visits became less frequent in the last few years of her life. Her final visit was in 2015, two years before she died. Even after 2015, she never stopped insisting that she would be back in Chicago, and she never sold her build
Nancy did say – albeit rarely – that she had found “Home” in Oaxaca. This picture may have been one of her birthdays, either in Juchitán or Oaxaca. The man is not known.
Nancy's Keys
Nancy’s keys in Oaxaca.
View from Kitchen
View from kitchen onto the front patio. Shown are two of her four dogs.
Nancy's Studio
Nancy’s studio in Oaxaca.
One of many photographs that Nancy took to prepare for a painting. For most of her career, she worked from photographs.
How She Worked
Nancy’s painting based on her photograph of crabs on a plate.
An article in a Mexican publication, “Mujeres,” March 2010. The article was written by Sandra Kirkland.
Nancy had many adventures in Mexico. She had great sympathy for Zapoteca culture which, as an indigenous culture, is under siege. At one point, Nancy was “embedded” in a mountain camp surrounded by women with weapons and guerilla warfare attire. Shown is a small painting, “Viva Las Mujeres en Resistencia” (Long Live the Women of the Resistance) by Freddy dated 2005. This was a keepsake from that experience that Nancy kept in her kitchen.
Last Painting
Nancy’s final painting, unfinished.This image shows her underpainting. The poignant and equally bemusing title is “The Winds of Juchitán.
The hospital bed that Nancy used, situated in her Oaxaca living room. Still quintessentially Nancy with zebra sheets, forties leather and chrome furniture, books and a television.
"Poet and Cook"
Altar in Oaxaca
Nancy’s altar created by her wonderful caretakers, Judith Margolis and Alejandro Murguia. The candles stayed lit for 40 days after her death.
Nail Polish
Left to right: Her little travel watercolor set; Nancy in front of a mural; and a favorite shade of nail polish, “Wet Cement.”
Altar in Chicago
Nancy's friends celebrated her life at Woman Made Gallery in October 2018.
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© 2019 Linda R. James