Chicago native Gladys Nilsson attended the Art Institute of Chicago and is one of the six original members of the "Hairy Who," an artist group that famously challenged popular taste by producing abstract imagery. Like the surrealists, they were interested in the stranger and darker aspects of the human mind. Nilsson was the subject of a 1973 solo show at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
Over the years, Nilsson’s work has evolved from oil painting to watercolor and collage, and often weaves colorful contradictory images, humor, and elements from nature.
Nilsson’s 2013 A Girl in the Arbor series of 13 unique collage works, depicts a woman sitting on a brown chair under a blue arbor surrounded by greenery with tiny cutouts throughout the compositions.