Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Meet Our New Visiting Artistic Staff Member: Nicolas Jenkins

Pyramid Atlantic's other new visiting artist, Nic Jenkins, also completed his bachelor's degree at Arizona State University. Here is the email interview with Nic for the Pyramid Atlantic blog.

PO: I enjoyed exploring your website Under photogravures, you include five images of your work. In these pieces, there are places: Las Palmas motel, landscapes. These photogravures appear to be about the transformation of place, or about the surprising interplay between apparently unrelated sites. I felt drawn to the impact of seeing these works together. Is this something that you think you may continue to do - make art that is about encountering places that complement each other in some way?

NJ: I really enjoyed working on those photogravures and I feel that I have more work to do with that particular series of landscapes. When I first started taking photographs I wanted to explore my surroundings. I felt it necessary to interact with my broader environment: that which surrounds me and I neglect to acknowledge. Being from Phoenix, Arizona, that meant the mountains that make up the valley, and the sprawling surface streets that connect one place to another.

Now that I have made the D.C. Metro my new home I am very eager to make new photogravures of this area.

PO: In another series, Jack and Sara, I believe you explore a period of your parents' relationship in the past in search of a story that lies beneath the surface. Instead of passing over certain things, relationships or landscapes, you pause, show something, and then add other views. I can't quite put my finger on it, but you seem to want people to pause, slow down, and consider something right in front of their eyes. Do you?

NJ: In fact, I would put myself in the position of the viewer. I believe I have more to learn from my parents as I age. When I was reproducing these images from photographs of my parents during their wedding I realized they were in their late twenties at the time. I explored their lives through those photographs and tried relating them to mine, imagining what they were like at my age and the decisions they had made. To be honest, these, as most of my work, were more for me than anyone else, although I had the opportunity to exhibit these prints together where my parents were able to attend.

PO: In terms of your art, how important is travel to you?

NJ: Travel is very important to me. When I was younger my parents taught me the value of traveling and I am always looking for opportunities that take me somewhere new. My art evolves from this, from what I am doing in my travels, and what I see. I feel every environment has characteristics of their own and something new to teach me.

PO: Are there places you want to visit and do art?

NJ: I am attracted to many places, in particular: Yellowstone National Park, and Yosemite. I also want to explore the major cities of the world, and how they evolve on top of themselves through time.

PO: How did you get started in art?

NJ: When I began college I was interested in both art and engineering. My sophomore year I took a class in printmaking and physics. I was drawn right away to the hands on and creative approach of printmaking.

PO: Are you thinking of going on for a master's degree in art? Where would you concentrate you study?

NJ: I am very interested in furthering my education. A master's degree in printmaking has always been in my future plans. But I also think there is a lot to learn outside of academia, and I believe Pyramid Atlantic has a lot to teach me about being an artist and connecting with the community.

PO: What do you teach at Pyramid Atlantic?

NJ: Currently, I am a Visiting Artistic Staff Member at Pyramid Atlantic, and I have been assisting in the Montgomery Housing Project, teaching young kids art projects. Beyond that I hope to be able to share some of the skills and techniques with anyone interested.

PO: What are you working on now?

NJ: Currently I am working on a few commissions and getting settled at my new home. With Franc's* help I have found a large interest in woodworking, both in the practical, i.e. furnishing my house and in the creative. I am also looking into the possibility in teaching a few classes at Pyramid, sharing my knowledge in photogravure and mezzotint. I hope to soon start working on a few woodcuts and monoprints I have had on my mind.

[*Franc Rosario is Pyramid Atlantic's Digital Lab and Woodshop Associate. -PO]

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