In a world where art has become a commodity similar to that of trading, say coffee ( which in fact is the largest commodity in the world presently), there has been a quiet revolution brewing (pun intended), one which like the heroes behind paint marked faces is strong and full of promise. The promise, art from artists. The fashion world has Rei Kawakubo…. , but who will become the Rei Kawakubo of the art world or is such a phenomenon even possible, in such a broad field.
The Homogeneous world filled with non- decreeable anything, art and the artists like Michael Nighwonger has become our last place of refuge.
This is a time when real artists are not only necessary but essential. Essential in that they create outside of the corporate paradigm. Here is an artist (M.N.) literally creating in the country side. Instead of marketing and curators by his side, he has his demons and angels and geniuses to torment and soothe him while he creates in solitude.
KA Magazine caught up with Mr. Nighswonger after his return (can you ever leave) to the art “show” reality, in an audacious and brave self curated and staged show in Seattle.
The body of work present was impressive to say the least and upon first impression, gave one the feeling that there were more than one artist showing; but one artist it was. Michael Nighswonger is definitely one to watch; a natural talent drawing from within and creating bold and moving narratives in colour, texture, light and dark.
Michael talk to us about what prompted you to put this show together (in Seattle),and your choice of art pieces.
I was looking for markets to develop and introduce my work, and I was instantly drawn to Seattle’s energy and spirit. I love the entrepreneurial nature in this city – major tech players like Amazon and Microsoft share the city with all the start-ups and independents – people aren’t afraid to break the mold and venture out on their own. A real willingness to look at life – and hopefully art, a different way.
I picked pieces that would look great together and embody the spirit of city. Bold, singular and full of life.
After the decision to curate and stage your own show was finalized, did you think of the risk involved in such an endeavour.
Risk is always there in life, but you can’t be afraid of it. If I was, all my canvases would be blank. In defining risk, you have to define success and failure – a dangerous thing to do for an artist. If you go into the studio, a show or an interaction, already determining what failure is, and therefore worrying about risk – you’ve already lost the battle. By being aware of circumstances, potential outcomes and embracing the entire situation, you eliminate risk and fear.
How did you challenge the fear that this debut might not be as you wished it.
Fear has nothing to do with art. Commitment to my process gave me the opportunity to dismiss fear, doubt and present to me the possibility of all the opportunities that lie ahead. To pursue that – it’s not a wish, it is reality.
Isn’t the fact that you actually created this incredible show and put your art out there enough of an inspiration to keep you motivated.
Yes, it keeps me motivated, but it’s never enough. Will there ever be enough? I can’t ask myself that question. This is what I do. This is how I live my life – I am not sure there will ever be “enough”.
When does an artist feel satisfied in such a subjective calling.
I don’t know. Personally, I feel satisfied when a piece expresses itself that it’s done. That it has its own voice. That it’s ready to speak to someone else out there in the world. It might sound hard to believe, but that’s when I’m satisfied.
What is/was the highlight of the Seattle show.
The entire moment was the highlight – from putting it together, driving the work from East to West, staging it in an open, large environment, and the people that did come, more than filled the space. Just doing it – putting 20 pieces together and looking at them together all at the same time was an incredible experience. Seeing how connected the pieces are, seeing how it played out. They had a very powerful way of saying – this is who we are, this is what we’ve done together.
How did you choose from such a broad array of art for your show.
It was simple – the pieces were picked as a collection, to be put together as a group. I had 50 to choose from. Became clear as I started that had to bring best work that I had created up to date in 2015. These are those pieces. They picked themselves.
You have done major commissions and private commissions: how do you reconcile with being sort of on the fringe and is getting
in the stream something that entices you as an artist.
Whether it’s a stream, flow or current, whatever it is, my interest is the work, the client. The current isn’t the mainstream of the art world, but the new stream is the individual – whether I have to drag it to them, or they come see me. The individual and the art will lead.
What can we expect in the MN art evolution.
For me and my art, personally, I will dontinue to commit to my processes and wherever that takes me is unknown. That’s where I’m most comfortable, and it has to be OK not knowing what’s ahead. It’s so much about the process. It will all be driven about the process. Evolution is the process.
I have to continue to pursue the unexpected and push beyond the expectations even for myself.
You live a kind of double life one part recluse, one part showman; how do you reconcile these two parts with the whole MN personality.
They are both essential parts of the art. I need the solitude of the North Country and its mountains, rivers and lakes and quiet calm. That is the creative engine that helps drive the art. The public side of me wants to introduce and share my art with the world – getting feedback, inspiration, and information that I can then process in the more spiritual, tranquil world I live in most of the time. Both sides of that equation are necessary in order to guide my creative process. Both are necessary, but alone, neither are sufficient.
Is art and being an artist akin to a torrid love affair.
For me personally – absolutely. I’d take out the word “torrid” and put in extraordinary, life-changing, to completely all-encompassing.
Whether on the canvas or in life, love only has one purpose – to succeed, no matter how much we, or the outside world, tries to destroy it. The art is the same with me – it just wants to succeed, no matter what I do to it. The art is bigger than me. I’m just part of the process.
The relationship with these pieces – all this work, it is indeed a great love affair.