"I describe my work as abstract, with images that are colorful and textured, imbued with symbolism. My paintings have a celestial and ethereal feel because they represent our inner selves. I use acrylic, gels, plaster, wire, metals, nails, gold leaf, sand, glass beads, ink, and real flowers."
Nicole Collie, a Bahamian-born artist currently residing in the United States, traces the roots of her artistic journey back to her childhood, where a fluorescent green desk filled with coloring books and crayons ignited her creative spark. "My journey as an artist starts with vivid memories of that desk. It was bigger than life, and when I outgrew it, I began carrying the memories with me. I have a deep fondness for that desk," she reflects.
Her initial foray into art consisted of paintings depicting landscapes, flowers, and eventually, human subjects. Nicole's artistic exploration took shape with watercolors, utilizing the same seven colors familiar from elementary school. Despite this early preference, her artistic horizons expanded during her studies at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh, where she earned her bachelor's degree in Graphic Design. Initially resistant to acrylic paint, she discovered its appeal and adaptability, allowing for layering and texture that enriched her artistic expression.
While at the Art Institute, Nicole confronted her reluctance to paint nudes, a challenge rooted in her religious upbringing. However, the experience turned into a transformative journey as she gained confidence and self-esteem through her interactions with women willing to be painted. Ironically, painting nudes, once an act of rebellion and shock value, has become Nicole's primary focus. She explains, "I began painting nudes as an act of rebellion and for shock value. Raised in a modest home where nudity was never spoken of, conservative Bahamian culture made it particularly difficult for people to accept my art."
Nicole draws inspiration from women and other creatives, utilizing her art to symbolize empowerment, especially in portraying the female body. Rejecting societal pressures to conceal imperfections, she aims to encourage unconditional self-acceptance. "I enjoy painting the female body as a symbol of empowerment. Women spend so much time trying to look better, to hide or not acknowledge their flaws, and that is sad to me. My desire for everyone, especially women, is that we can accept ourselves unconditionally."
This review was published by Circle Foundation for the Arts © CFA Press ∙ Images are courtesy of the artist