Briefly describe the work that you do.
In my studio I explore stories, real and imagined, philosophy and metaphysics, combining them to create intimate personal meditative images along with large scale pieces that deal with the more universal aspects of the ideas I uncover. I am interested in identity, humanity, change and environment and how all those things work together or against each other on both sides of the human boundaries with the world.
At what point in your life did you decide to become an artist?
I grew up making things, like crafts for fairs with my grandmother or watercolor pictures with my brother. We made useful objects, like bags and baskets to collect things from the garden, but we also made things that were purely decorative. When I got further into school and “craft time” disappeared from the curriculum I challenged myself to keep making things. After many class trips to Chicago’s world-class Art Institute and the Museum of Contemporary Art I realized I could imbue those things with ideas and sentiments. That really solidified it for me. I think I was about 12 or 13.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
I have always been a reader, devouring books like candy. One of the things I love most in life is a good story, whether heard, read or witnessed. I think of many of my images as stories, or even as illustrations of ideas. Growing up in the midwest has had an impact on my color palette and my approach. Specifically growing up in the craft environment has given me a lot of deep motivation to work in small portable, holdable sizes with a sense of preciousness. Of course, in my studio there is also an element of challenging my past and I push myself to work larger.
What types of conceptual concerns are present in your work? How do those relate to the specific process(es) or media you use?
My main conceptual concern is for identity and change and how we deal with that. I use a drawing language that has grown out of the language of maps and cartography to make work about tracking change or making a map of the self and place, internal and external. I use water-based media because of the simplicity with which it layers and the short drying times. In the larger work I am thinking more about what is inside and what is outside. Acrylic paint is easy to manipulate if you work with it from the ingredients, not from the tube. To create the feeling of a wall I can make the paint chalky and lightless, or I can make it slick and shiny so the viewer bounces off of it.
We once heard Chuck Close say he did not believe in being inspired, rather in working hard everyday. What motivates you in your studio practice?
A professor and mentor of mine likes to say, “work makes work”. When I feel stuck in my studio I will make anything, because it is infinitely better than making nothing and it could lead me to a solution. Usually I turn to drawing from life. Even though I won’t show it and it might not be directly related to my paintings, it is still work. I find that when I draw from life my mind is quieter and I can think clearly. And even if I don’t find a solution, I am still exercising, still working. As far as what motivates my work and my studio practice as a whole, I would have to say its the ideas thems
elves, the stories and the act of making them into images. I love to make things.
What artists living or non-living influence your work?
My top three artist friends are Joseph Cornell, Louise Bourgeois, and Paul Klee. All three made work that speaks to me very deeply. They remind me what the point is and encourage me to keep making things that I believe in.
When you are not making art what types of activities and interests do you engage in?
I love to read. I still can’t get enough. But in addition to books I take in stories through video games, comics and movies. I love to be outside. I climb, hike, swim and camp. I bake a perfect apple pie and dream about having a garden one day. And I travel to see my family as often as possible.
Nicole Pancini was born in eastern Tennessee in 1987, but her family relocated to northwest Indiana when she was about 4. She grew up in what is lovingly referred to as “The Region”, the part of Indiana that is in proximity to Chicago and Lake Michigan. Nicole earned her first college degree, an Associate of Arts in Communication, in 2008 from Purdue University. She then continued on to Ball State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Painting, graduating in 2012. She is currently a 2014 MFA candidate at Boston University. Nicole works through the university as a teaching assistant for an introductory drawing class and as a gallery assistant to the curator of two galleries on campus, 808 Gallery and the Sherman Gallery. In 2012 Nicole was awarded a Women’s Council Scholarship from the Boston University Women’s Council. Some recent shows Nicole’s work has been in includeAttraction and Doubt, an invitational group show curated by Scott Anderson in Muncie, Indiana in February of 2014, and a group show at Boston City Hall’s Scollay Square Gallery in March of 2014.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.