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About Me

Hello! I am Nikki. I am an artist with a vast interest in subject matter and material; ceramics being my main focus. 

Connecting to the earth through clay, I find my peace. As an artist, I find my greatest inspiration through nature. As a ceramicist, I do not seek uniformity and perfection. My work is heavily influenced by the Japanese Aesthetic of Wabi Sabi. "˜Wabi,' is defined as austere beauty, harmony, tranquility and balance. "˜Sabi,' recognizes that beauty is fleeting, welcoming the rusting and weathering patina that becomes over time. Together, Wabi Sabi is the idea that beauty is found within imperfections in nature, while accepting and embracing the natural cycle of growth and decay. I aim to capture an aesthetic similar to that of Wabi Sabi.

I have a deep fascination with metaphysical and ancient wisdom, in esoteric knowledge and cultures of the ancient past.

No two pieces of my work will be the same. I do not seek to be a production potter; where all of my work is sleek and uniform. Each piece will slightly vary in form and design, as they are meditations just as much as they are works of art. Through my work, I hope you find beauty in the uniqueness and imperfections of form; in the idea of “chance." I'm excited to embark deeper on this journey with clay, and I hope my work helps you find a stronger connection to to the earth.

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Bachelor of Fine Arts (Ceramics)

William Paterson University, NJ


Associates of Fine Arts
Raritan Valley CC, NJ

Artist Experience

2015 Senior Thesis Exhibition - Power Art Gallery: Wayne, NJ 

2015 Emerging Artists Showcase - Ringwood Manor Art Gallery: Ringwood, NJ - Best in Show

2014 Emerging Artists Showcase - Ringwood Manor Art Gallery - 2nd - Painting

2014 Emerging Artists Showcase - Ringwood Manor Art Gallery - Honorable Mention

2014 Profiles of the Future - Ben Shahn Art Gallery: Wayne, NJ - Best in Category : Woodworking

2013 Material Matters: Ceramics, Sculpture & Wood - Power Art Gallery: Wayne, NJ

2015 BFA Senior Thesis

Realm of the Unknown

Ceramics / Painting

When I create artwork, I allow my subconscious mind to take over the creative process, clearing all conscious thought and logic. I believe that our innermost self expresses the truest representation of who we are as artists. Art serves as an escape from the world we live in and is an entrance to an entirely different world. When I am in the process of creating, I zone out everything that surrounds me almost in a trance-like alternative state of mind. Creating this way allows me to pour out my emotions and allow viewers to have an insight to the deepest part of my mind. I have an immense appreciation for both ceramic sculpture and painting. When I work in either medium, I create with the same methodology. For my BFA Thesis project, I wanted to find a way to combine the two together. I decided that creating an installation would do just that. Installations are intended to give viewers a sense of environment. I wanted this environment to be a representation of the subconscious mind. I began to do research on the subconscious mind, reading as much as possible to better understand how the mind works. In a writing by an important figure in the New Thought Movement ,William Walker Atkinson, The Subconscious & Superconscious planes of Mind; I was inspired by a quote Walker included by David Kay, “Every impression or thought that has once been before consciousness remains ever after impressed in the mind. It may never again come up before consciousness, but it will doubtless remain in that vast ultra-conscious region of the time, unconsciously moulding and fashioning our subsequent thoughts and actions. It is only a small part of what exists in the mind that we are at any time conscious of. There is always much that is known to be in the mind that exists in it unconsciously, and must be stored away somewhere. We may be able to recall it into our consciousness when we wish to do so, but at other times the mind is unconscious of its existence.” After reading this I knew just how to go about representing the subconscious mind. It brought me back to artwork I created three semesters ago when I took my first ceramics course at William Paterson. I transferred from a two year school and had experience with clay after taking five courses. These courses relied solely on the pottery aspect of working with clay, throwing on the wheel and making functional ware. I was unaware that the ceramics program at William Paterson was sculptural-based. Due to my appreciation for functional pottery, I sought to create sculptures that took on an abstract approach to the vessel. Vessels have been an ancient art form used for storage or ceremonial objects so I decided to allow my sculptures to be a metaphorical ‘storehouse’ for emotions. When I created these sculptures I let go of any conscious thought. I did not plan or execute these in a specific manner. I was familiar with clay as a medium enough to be able to build with appropriate drying time and weight management so the sculptures would not collapse during the process. While building I allowed the natural texture of the clay to remain on the surface by bending, ripping or scraping. I welcomed accidents and mishaps because I felt as though they were meant to happen. At one point I spontaneously ripped a hole in the clay and was intrigued with the stark darkness from the inside of the vessel. I soon realized that this process of working with clay is much more true to myself as an artist than functional pottery ever was. I need to work in a free and expressive manner to unleash my emotions rather than be particular with a planned outcome. While showing these sculptures during a critique, colleagues were discussing the surface texture and how similar to the earth they were and how the forms were so expressive. Someone mentioned they looked like stalagmites from a cave and it finally clicked; I create artwork with a distinct similarity to nature. I realized it was because I have always had such a fond appreciation for nature, for things that are naturally formed. While researching the subconscious and deciding how to portray it in an installation, I remembered this critique with the comment that my sculptures were similar to stalagmites. I then decided to create a cave installation incorporating both my sculptures and paintings. The problem that I sought to solve through my thesis was; How can I visually represent the subconscious mind? ‘Sub’ meaning below and ‘conscious’ meaning awareness; I decided that since a cave is hidden beneath the surface of the earth, it is the perfect representation of the part of our mind that is hidden beneath the surface of conscious awareness. The subconscious acts as a memory bank as it stores all of our previous life experiences, beliefs, thoughts, desires, fears, emotions and memories. I wanted the stalagmite sculptures to represent all of these and how they are stored within the subconscious. Stalagmites are formed in caves by water dripping through cracks in the roof of the cave, picking up mineral deposits in the earth, When this water drips off of the ceiling, the minerals in the water separate and begin to grow formations on the cave floor. The ‘Stalactites’ that descend from the ceiling that would metaphorically ‘drip’ and allow the stalagmites to continue to grow. This signifies every single event that happens to us in our lives. The swaying, twisting movement of each form signifies that things happen in our lives that affect the paths we are on. The tears, holes and patches on the surface of the clay represent any fear or obstacle we encounter in our lives. The fact that these stalagmites continued to ‘grow’ past each obstacle mean that no matter what we encounter in our lives we will always get through it and continue to grow. These events or obstacles will always be a part of us and will be imbedded in our subconscious whether we want it or not. The subconscious does not and can not eliminate anything from its ‘storehouse.’ Things that we don’t even know we remember are hidden deep within the mind, far away from conscious knowing. In a 10 x 8 ft corner of space, my cave was completed with ten stalagmites and ten stalactites. The stalactites were hung from the ceiling using cable. Using gessoed paper, I constructed the walls, ceilings and floors of the cave by applying layers of various shades of wood stains and varnishes. I aimed to achieve an organic, rocky appearance, such as what would be found in any cave. My sculptures were fired in an alternative firing process which gave the surface it’s earthy appearance. I fired my pieces Raku with surface treatment. Raku is a low-firing process that originated in Japan in the 16th Century. It wasn’t until the first half of the 20th Century that it was popularized in the Western World, thanks to ceramicist Paul Solder, who invented the post-fire reduction technique. This process consists of taking the pieces out of the kiln while they are still glowing red. They are then placed in a metal can that is filled with combustible materials such as leaves, hay, newspaper, sawdust, ect. This ‘post fire reduction’ process begins at this moment. The heat that is emitted from the piece causes the materials to catch fire, when the lid is put on the can the fire goes out and smokes fills the can. The pieces are then taken out of the reduction chamber and applied with materials such as ferric chloride, salt, copper oxide, copper carbonate and sawdust. The way the chemicals react with the hot surface of the clay leaves unpredictable markings, textures and colors. I am fascinated by the unpredictable nature of working in this particular way. The outcome of my work relies on chance. There is a combination of time, temperature, and chemical elements that makes this technique unpredictable. My work is reflective of my nature and spontaneous personality. I believe nothing comes out as planned. The best things that I do in my life are not planned or pre-thought. I am spontaneous in the sense that I do not need much time to think about what I want to do, I just do it. I go with the flow and don’t let minor things worry me. My work shows spontaneity in movement and action. My predominant influence in art began with prehistoric cave paintings. I have always been mesmerized by the images on the walls of caves that have been preserved for thousands of years. I also find it amazing that the artists were able to conjure up pigments from the earth. These images were records of their life. We are aware of their history because they were so well preserved. When I view prehistoric cave art, I squint my eyes and visualize them as abstract paintings. The textures and colors have a strong influence on my work. The Ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks are also extremely fascinating. The things that I enjoy most about the art and artifacts from these ancient empires is the patina that is found on them. I find the wear and tear, chipping of paint, broken sculptures and the decay of material to be beautiful. The way these objects age overtime becomes a work of art created by nature. A styles of art that has had a strong influence on me is Abstract Expressionism and the concept of action painting. The Abstract Expressionists created work to express, not explain. In a critique of Abstract Expressionism by David Craven, Professor of Art History at the University of New Mexico, discusses Robert Motherwell’s opinion on the making of art, “painting and sculpture are not skills that can be taught in reference to pre-established criteria,’ but entail a ‘process, whose content is found, subtle, and deeply felt.” He also discusses the judgements of Clyfford Still. “‘Spontaneous’ or unmediated reactions to his paintings would never be common, even as he maintained that such reactions were nonetheless possible.” My work relies heavily on spontaneity, in my paintings and within my sculptures. The process of creating consists of the absence of thought and allows new possibilities to occur. There is a uniqueness to every piece that I create, no two will ever be alike. I am also intrigued by Jackson Pollock’s way of thinking. He believed that the process of making art was the art. The end-point is only a manifestation of the work of art itself. I believe this as well. Wabi Sabi is another important aesthetic that has significantly influenced my artistic work. Wabi Sabi is the Japanese aesthetic that focuses on an idea that there is beauty in imperfection and the acceptance of transience. It can be described as a beauty that is impermanent or incomplete. This concept is derived from Buddhism, and it portrays it profundity in nature by accepting the natural cycle of growth, decay, and death. Cracks and crevices are appreciated, as well as other marks. The aesthetic of Wabi Sabi reminds us that we are transient beings on this planet, that we are in the process of decaying, just as much as material objects are. Through Wabi Sabi, I embrace imperfections such as rust or frayed edges and support its style throughout my work. It is evident that Wabi Sabi has a strong influence in my work. The texture, the cracks and crevices, the asymmetrical imperfect forms, are all part of the Wabi Sabi style that I love and portray especially in my ceramics. There are many, many artists that have deeply affected my work. One in particular is Peter Callas. Callas is a contemporary abstract expressionist artist who works in clay and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him one summer. I learned the aspects of wood-firing, an ancient firing technique from Japan, Korea, and China, that was first brought to the USA by Callas. He is known for building the first anagram wood-fire kiln in America. His aesthetics rely on the unpredictability and happenings of chance by firing with wood. The naturalness of wood-firing reflects upon his work in forms, colors and textures. Callas explained to me that firing with wood is completely natural, so close to earth, and the natural qualities that appear in his work demonstrate that nature is his inspiration. I learned a lot while working with him for several months and I learned a lot about myself as an artist during the experience. I realized that my work is definitely inspired by nature and I want to convey that in my art. Before having the opportunity to work with Peter Callas, I was creating work for aesthetic reasons. I realize now that subconsciously, my work is driven by nature. To produce the work for my thesis took a period of eight months. I spent time researching contemporary artists who have created artwork dealing with caves or stalagmites and so far I have not found any artist who took the approach I did. I took several trips to local caves to get a better understand of the environment and to inspire me so create my work. I am very pleased with the outcome and I feel as though I have learned so much more about myself as an artist. I was able to delve deeper into my subconscious and express my emotions through my ceramic sculptures. My abstract approach to the material reflects the idea that the subconscious is difficult to understand, but it is there deep inside our minds containing all of our past, present and future actions and events. Senior Thesis 2015 William Patterson University Wayne NJ

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