The Glass Department at The College for Creative Studies in Detroit had a student showing recently and my good friend and collaborator, Nicole Rose Gallagher had a piece featured in it. So of course I showed up to check out her work and to take some photos. There was a lot of cool stuff on display. There was a chess set made of glass, faux fruit made of glass that was super realistic and even a small installation in an unused bathroom. But undoubtedly the star of the show was NRG’s couch. Entitled “Bivalve” which is a reference to a shelled creature. The piece is grounded in a found object, a harp case, which then evolved into the work you see here. Nicole is a true mixed media artist as you can see by the incorporation of wood, vinyl, metal, glass and soon to be added, concrete. It was so out of scale from the rest of the work, that it dominated the room. I sat down with her for a bit to talk about it.
Me- So what’s up? Awesome work! Where did the inspiration come from?
NRG- I was driving around the city looking for found materials to incorporate into my next piece and I saw this glorious, huge case and I instantly knew that I was going to make something with it. I envisioned a multi use piece of furniture immediately. So then I just had to figure out what it was and how to create it.
Me- What is a “Bivalve”?
NRG- It is mussel/clam type creature, a mollusk, made up of two halves. I chose the name because the exterior of these creatures is usually dirty and scarred, from keeping the delicate interior safe. That is what the case does. The rough, wooden exterior keeps the white vinyl on the inside “safe”. And the piece opens so clean and finished, while the exterior stays rough.
Me- Why found work?
NRG- It is so easy, too easy, to just go buy materials for work. I like taking something that has already had a full life and adding to it. Taking something that would have ended up in a landfill and breathing new life into it. Layering it’s past incarnation, as a harp case, onto it’s new life, a work of furniture. To me it’s perfectly in keeping with the rebirth of Detroit. Change is always happening. It cannot be stopped. All we can do is take elements of the past, meld them with elements of the present and together, create a new future.
Me- There is so much going on in the work, wood, glass, vinyl, concrete, what is your preferred medium?
NRG- I like it all. I really enjoying combining elements that seem to be dissimilar, glass and steel for example, and making them fit, harmoniously together. The juxtaposition of elements in a found context, is truly is a melding of mediums. I want to bring it all together, so I work with all of it.
Me- Where can we see more of your work?
NRG- CCS has its bi annual student exhibit on May 15. I will have more work there and I may have some gallery shows coming up. I’m talking with a few galleries now and trying to work out details.