2023 Studio Art Senior Exhibition
February 27 – March 24, 2023
February 27, 2023 – March 24, 2023
Reception: Friday, March 24, 5 pm–8 pm
Department of art
Develop your artistic talent and build analytical thinking and technical skills that prepare you for career opportunities in education, advertising, arts management, design and more.
Nicole Ballachino is a studio artist who specializes in oil painting and printmaking. She primarily uses her paintings to depict scenes from everyday life to create a narrative piece of work. Using representational color to influence the mood and tone of the painting. Nicole starts her process with a series of photographs to map out the composition before picking one to stylize during the painting process with exaggerated use of color. For her recent series of pieces, Nicole has focused on portraying herself through portraits and still-life objects. Stemming from her fear of mirrors and struggles with body dysmorphia throughout her life. The still life is used to reflect who Nicole is as a person through various scenes in her bedroom. Giving the viewer an intimate window into her life through her personal items. Thus representing her struggles with self-image, ADHD, and disassociation.
Nicole has also begun her journey experimenting with woodcuts and works in a similar process as her paintings. Though for creating her prints, she goes through an additional step of stylizing her photographs with a sketch-like art style. She uses her prints to give a full encompassing view of herself and personality. Showing both sides of herself by creating prints that mirror her paintings but in a different style. Emulating some of her favorite artists, such as junji ito through her sketchy line art and graphic design.
Many people suffer from silent illnesses that live within their own heads; depression, anxiety, paranoia, and so on and so forth. Of which these are especially prominent in today’s climate. But, even with all this new awareness, for those who don’t experience these mental monsters themselves, it can sometimes be hard to interpret because they are not physical; they cannot be visually gauged for those who cannot imagine themselves in others’ shoes.
My work is a visual interpretation of these mental illnesses, depicting these invisible wounds as physical ones. I use oil paint, digital art, and sculptural assets to portray those suffering in a morbid yet beautiful manner. Because even though we live with these injuries, they can be beautiful and, more often than not, end up shaping us into who we are as we learn to cope and live with them.
My work focuses on porcelain because of the memory that porcelain holds, and I start by considering current experiences and emotions that have inspired me and research artists/things in the natural world that are relevant to my work. I feel inspired by other artists that focus on the human condition and the potency of emotions, especially negative ones that we must endure.
Through these things, I feel ready to express my self-reflective narrative while I work with the medium to create something unique and indicative of my experiences.
I focus heavily on the surface to convey the intensity and variation of the emotion I’m expressing. I gravitate towards organic shapes, as well as warm color and my pieces focus on expressing my experiences through various qualities derived from defense mechanisms found in nature, such as spikes. Sometimes I use metal wire to get a more gritty feel to my work, and I allow room for “mistakes” like running glaze, broken spikes, or stretched-too-far porcelain. These coincidences that occur throughout my process all make room for expressing the ugly, less fun parts of the human experience. I work with lettering to more directly communicate some of my ideas. Phrases such as “Mother Nature’s bitch” and “A wounded animal yet bears teeth” are things I add into my work because of the power of the phrase, but also to clue in my audience on some of the emotions I’m conveying in my other, less in-your-face pieces.
The idea of memory in the body is very prevalent in what I have to say, which makes porcelain the perfect medium for me to express my ideas. I see myself emerging through my ceramic pieces the more developed that they get. My goal in my work is to make space for my experiences that make me unique, especially my suffering, as I find we can all relate greatly to others’ pain. I hope for others to find themselves in my work too, and I strongly believe in the power of vulnerability and its ability to heal humans and bring us closer together.
One of my favorite quotes is by Dr. Brene Brow, “If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can’t survive.” This idea is an enormous influence in my work, as I find shame to be the root of a great deal of my suffering and those close to me’s suffering. You might even find it’s the root of yours as well. I believe putting my pain on display, direct and representational, or more of a head-scratcher, can be extremely healing, and it only begins with me. These porcelain pieces are different versions of me throughout my experiences, ready to start the conversation.
Much of my work explores emotions, especially fear, and how I see, hear, and perceive information. In a way, I think some of my fears are unusual – caterpillars, for example, are something that I have been afraid of since childhood. My sculptures are a way for me to gauge others’ reactions to see if these fears are shared or just plain ridiculous. This curiosity, both in my fears and in the surreal images I imagine, are best expressed through ceramics. I find it to be one of the best mediums to help me convey my allegorical narratives which convey my emotions. Ceramics offers me the flexibility to work through my ideas and is very tactile. I add two-dimensional elements to the surface of my work, I make large, 3D objects that can stand on their own, and I commonly combine both elements into one piece, creating a multi-layered narrative.
I get inspiration from my experiences, and how my anxiety has warped my perception of the world around me. I have a very active imagination, and that combined with my anxiety exacerbates my perception of reality. Situations that seem small to anyone else are seen as a larger problem or concern in my mind. Caterpillars, for example, are often seen as harmless, as figures in children’s stories, because of how small they are, but to me, they are capable of becoming a bigger problem.
I commonly journal because I often get new ideas I want to record before they fade out of my consciousness. There is something reassuring about the process of getting an idea and then immediately beginning to create. The process of constructing a sculpture allows me to confront my fears. I allow myself to control what that fear looks like, which provides me comfort and lets me become more familiar with them by characterizing it. This level of control also provides escapism for me. I end up getting so involved in the process of designing that I focus more on creating rather than my anxiety.
As I invite the viewer to engage in my work, I like to add some surreal humor to my work as a way to help me cope with my fears – associating something positive or humorous with my fears helps me find something light in a time of darkness. Adding these whimsical elements helps to create a connection between the viewer, the work, and me.
My artwork combines the therapeutic process of creation with the experiences of my life and twisting them into different ideas and concepts. I create a combination of two- and three-dimensional work. I have studied art therapy and find incorporating a therapeutic process into my artwork of turning negative experiences into positive ones is good for my being.
I work through emotion and feeling with creating a constructive result. I have gone through thyroid cancer and have been radioactive as a treatment for it. Going through these events has led to my interest in creating pieces that revolve around my experiences as well as radioactivity and hazardous materials generally. I also desire to add symbolism to my pieces relevant to my journey. I desire a color scheme that seems almost other worldly. My pieces are a combination of reality, playfulness, and fantasy. Combining elements of art therapy with my own experiences to create radioactive-inspired artwork is a process that I hope to convey in a thought-provoking, yet whimsical way.
MONDAY: 2:00pm - 5:00pm
TUESDAY: 2:00pm - 5:00pm
WEDNESDAY: 2:00pm - 5:00pm
THURSDAY: 2:00pm - 5:00pm
FRIDAY: 2:00pm - 5:00pm
BY APPOINTMENT (440) 826-2152