Profile: Deborah Dancy (1949-)

Deborah Dancy, also known as Deborah Muirhead is an American painter of large-scale abstractions in oil; she is also a printmaker and mixed media artist. Her work is also known to encompass digital photography. In 1981, she began to teach at the University of Connecticut, Storrs, where she taught painting for thirty-five years until her retirement in 2017. She has received awards such as a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship,Women’s Studio Workshop Studio Residency Grant, and a YADDO fellowship.

Early Life & Education

Dancy was born in 1949 in Bessemer, Alabama. She was born into an African American family who treasured their heritage and ancestry. Dancy received her BFA from Illinois Wesleyan University in 1973, as well as an MS in printmaking and MFA in painting from Illinois State University in 1976 and 1979, respectively.


Her painting “Seed Travel” appeared in the Stamford Museum and Nature Center. Dancy taught painting at the University of Connecticut, Storrs for thirty-five years before retiring in 2017.

Dancy’s works are in the permanent collections of numerous galleries and academic institutions, some of which include the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Birmingham Museum of Art in Alabama, and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Dancy was also nominated for a Connecticut Children’s Book Award for Illustration for The Freedom Business as an illustrator and co-author.

Deborah Dancy was the art director and the illustrator of The Freedom Business, a book by her friend, Marilyn Nelson.

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