The Temple News: Your art has matured throughout the years into projects that bring about interaction, not just reaction, with the audience. How have you been viewing art as a whole, and how are you trying to incorporate your views into your work?
Nicole Wilson: I’m very interested now in how we relate to each other on a basic level. For instance, how do you and I interact, and how does that communication grow into something larger than a conversation? I interpret art-making to be a dialogue of sorts between the artist and the viewer. It really becomes more than this, though, because the artist brings what they have created to the table, and the viewer brings their opinions and experiences.
TTN: You successfully mutated a regular dandelion into a pink one in your “Pink Dandelion Project,” helped start an art war among Philadelphia’s prominent art schools and sent found change to President Obama in an effort to offset the nation’s deficit. What message are you trying to send to the public via the aforementioned?
NW: I’m trying to converse about a lot of things. My identity, I mean how I view myself and how I believe others perceive me, has been essential to what I have made. I aim to talk a lot about this, as well as the contradictions and absurdities that exist within our everyday life. For instance, with the “Pink Dandelion Project,” I was addressing the idea of beauty rather than an example of something beautiful.
TTN: An online video has surfaced of an elephant painting a self-portrait. Do you think humans will eventually be overpowered by a new breed of elephant artists?
NW: Most definitely not. Although I’m sure the elephant was entertaining to watch, I believe in intention. Parents always say that their child could make a Jackson Pollock painting. And I’m sure that their child could fling paint onto a canvas, but he or she would have never thought to fling paint onto a canvas unless they were told to do so. An elephant could have made a self-portrait, but only because a human told him to do so. Furthermore, self-portraits mean nothing to elephants because an elephant would never need a self-portrait. A self-portrait is a human idea, and I really don’t think talented “artist elephants” care enough about what they are making to overpower us.
TTN: With the creation of the Internet and digital storage, do you think the values of an artist’s original works are diminishing? Since so many younger artists are flocking toward digitally created art, it’s impossible to have a single final piece, thus leaving less art collectors to boast about their originals. Do you view this as a positive or negative development for the art community?
NW: Absolutely not. If you’re talking about paintings, I believe that there is a real magic in paintings that can’t be translated through images. The same is true about sculpture, especially because so much sculpture is site specific. If you’re talking about art like video art, [which] can easily be put online, collectors are still buying it and still boasting about it. If anything, I think the world we are living in now is opening up more possibilities for artists and as a result, more possibilities for viewers, as well.
TTN: In closing, can you let us in on what your plans are for the near future and any outlets where we can keep up on your progress?
NW: Well, I’ll be having my B.F.A. show in the coming months and for now I’m going to continue to make art. I will also be continuing to send my found change in to fund the National Debt. All those letters are online at [https://nationaldebtproject.blogspot.com], and my work can be found on my Web site, which is nicolewilson.com.
Gian Hunjan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.