June 26, 2018
Nicole, please kick things off for us by telling us about yourself and your journey so far.
In high school I had a very influential art teacher as well as incredibly supportive parents who encouraged me to follow my passion and study art in college. I chose to get a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Michigan so that I could balance a fine arts degree within a more liberal arts framework. During college, while I considered myself a painter, I experimented with every manner of medium. I had a professor who encouraged me to think much more conceptually about image making and encouraged me to experiment with expressing my ideas through use of a variety of materials. Interestingly I took very few painting classes and instead chose to learn different studio practices such as printmaking, fiber arts, photography and sculpture. After I graduated I spent the summer at an artist’s residency where I was able to make art without the structure of an assignment or deadline. It was the first time that I had total creative freedom. I think this could have gone one of two ways-I would either flounder without having a teacher guiding me, or the freedom would feed my creative energy. I found the latter to be true and after two months at the residency realized that art-making was essential to my daily routine.
When I returned to Chicago after the residency I began a Master’s degree in art education. I quickly realized that I wasn’t ready to jump straight in to another full-time degree program so left after only one semester to work and paint full-time. I found a studio in Chicago and began my journey of meeting other like-minded artists and finding my way in the Chicago art scene.
Can you give our readers some background on your art?
I am primarily an oil painter but also create site-specific installations where imagery from my paintings is reproduced three-dimensionally. These installations offer the viewer a fully immersive experience in which they can physically enter into the narrative of the work. I paint dreamscapes that represent the thrilling and terrifying worlds that we can create within our own minds if given the chance to truly be alone. When a child has the time and freedom to go into their self-constructed worlds—that is, through their own looking glasses—fascinating things come about. I try to tap into that place myself during my creative process and let traditional logic fade away. Part of the creation process for me is to try to operate in parallel meanings. In that sense, the work is not a mystery that is meant to be solved by the viewer, but rather something that puts them in a unique place and causes them to have thoughts that are out of the ordinary.
Do you think conditions are generally improving for artists? What more can cities and communities do to improve conditions for artists?
I think there has been a huge transformation of the art scene since I started working as a professional artist in Chicago. I think in some ways it has become harder for artists to find traditional gallery representation but Chicago offers a lot of alternative exhibition spaces in so many neighborhoods around Chicago. Artists are doing a really nice job of advocating for each other and creating interesting opportunities for themselves and each other. The virtual world is helping connect artists together like never before. I am personally so much more connected to other artists both locally and internationally because of this.
What’s the best way for someone to check out your work and provide support?
I currently have an exhibition at The Art Center of Highland Park that runs through June 25th. I also have a large-scale painting in a group show at Bernarducci Gallery in New York City that will be on view until July 17th. In the studio I am working on new paintings for my second solo show at Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles that is slated for November 2019.