“Tehuti’s Conquest” by Nicole Dixon. Image courtesy of the artist.
How do the different mediums you use, and the combination of them, play into the message you are trying to get across with your work?
I believe all different mediums to have a different vibration and rhythm. They each evoke something different. The emotions i was trying to evoke with my earlier work weren’t being communicated through one medium. I used to do lots of paintings, but learned that it is not just about the imagery, but about the medium. Wood is a very natural medium and has a certain vibration that I appreciate. Iridescent mediums, paper, and charcoal, are all different from paint. The combination of mediums helps to weave together a story and take people on a journey that goes beyond just visual imagery.
As far as a favorite medium goes, I have always liked using lots together. Power for me comes in juxtaposition of different mediums. It is finding these combinations which is exciting to me.
For this exhibition specifically, I’ve chosen to center my pieces around revisiting blackness, which charcoal lends itself well to because of how it is a pure substance from nature and I can use my fingers to manipulate its movements.
Is there a specific way you want viewers to interact/react to your artwork, and what kind of relationship do you wish them to have with your pieces?
Throughout my career as an artist, I have discovered a way for viewers to interact with my work. I used to express emotions in a strong, narrative manner. The viewer could appreciate the technical skill of my paintings, but it wasn’t necessarily the most attractive work. The things I was talking about were so off-putting to viewers because I addressed subjects that are difficult to talk about. Nowadays, I look at images that draw me in, and find a way to discuss and bring to light these same issues in a very different kind of way that attracts people instead of repelling them. I do want people to be drawn to the image and to the figure specifically, because figures are various archetypes of blackness as I see blackness in the world opposed to how the media portrays it. I want people to understand I’m talking about blackness as it exists in the world. When people are attracted to the figures and find them beautiful, but still see the strength and unapologetic blackness, the beauty of this is undeniable. I want people to engage with them because the world does not present images of blackness that are positive.
What attracts you to natural objects, and how do you use them to illustrate your interest in things unseen?
I think a lot about my own nature, and how humans are a part of a cosmic story that has been going on for billions of years. Going through day to day life brings you closer to the natural reality and the cosmic story we are all living right now. the more I understand my own nature the better I am at illustrating my interest in things unseen.
What did your process look like for this particular body of work? Was it different than your usual process?
This process was closest to ritual. I started with figures and visualized bringing to life these figures — element by element and piece by piece. It all starts with the figure. Everything else emphasizes some elements that the figure possesses. I like to allow the figure to evolve, develop, and reveal itself.
About Nicole Dixon:
Nicole Dixon was born in Oakland, CA and in 2002, received a BA in Studio Art at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. In addition to exhibiting paintings, she has produced commissioned works, including family portraits and in-home murals, for over a decade. She has served as the altar-artist for numerous gatherings, conferences and activist organizations. She is also Montessori preschool teacher, and firmly believes education and creative expression go hand-in-hand. She teaches art to youth and adults alike, which has taken her as far as the Kalahari as guest art instructor. Nicole uses art as an interactive medium, and vehicle for self-transformation, community bridge-building, and positive social change.
About the interviewer:
Olivia Reed is a rising senior at Oberlin College, originally from The Bay Area. She studies English and Studio Art, with figure painting/drawing as a favorite medium.