Art in the Park: An Interview with Featured Artist Nichole Howard


How do you describe your subject matter or the content of your work?

The subject matter of my work is centered around food production and its historical and contemporary relationship to ceramics. I’ve been experimenting with growing food for about three years and I’ve found a way to fold this intense curiosity into my artistic practice.

What mediums do you work with?
As a traditionally trained ceramicist, I use clay and ceramics in a lot of my work, but I also have work that doesn’t use ceramics at all and centers entirely around food production, like my hydroponic garden system. I also use lots of seeds, microgreens, seedlings, succulents, anything living!

Greenhouse by Nichole Howard_1

Besides your art practice, are you involved in any other kind of work?

Gardening and education have been my main pursuits. Contemporary art is fabulous in that it allows non-traditional mediums to enter by way of the DIY craze and looking at the ordinary aspects of life that have the capacity for extraordinary communion. Thereby my obsession with gardening is a perfectly acceptable hobby to make into a serious artistic exploration. My career as an art educator also seeps into my work by allowing audiences to see entire plants cycles, exhibiting companion gardening or DIY hydropnic gardens. All of my exhibitions have an education component and I allow my successes and failures in the garden to be present also in the gallery.

What are you presently inspired by— are there particular things you are reading, listening to or looking at to fuel your work?
The Young Farmer’s Movement is a huge inspiration to me – a college roommate and long-term friend makes her living as a farmer and her participation in the food movement is significant to my practice. Her courage to take on such a risky career and her fierce commitment to proving an organic and engaging farm give me permission to seek out similar questions in my work, in a gallery context.

Greenhouse by Nichole Howard_2

What do you hope your work will accomplish? How do you want people to be affected?
I try to avoid answering this question, as my hope is generate a response. Any response is acceptable, negative or positive, but my main questions that I’m asking in my work is if food and live plants can be used as an artistic medium. I think most folks will say no, but my hope is to change their minds.

How do you navigate the art world? Do you have a motto you live by?
I navigate the art world by applying myself frequently. My motto is probably borrowed from Amy Pohler, “Yes, please!” which means apply a lot and always say yes to every opportunity that presents itself. This seems to work, as I am getting a lot of opportunities as of late, but I am seriously tired! So finding a balance between work, my artistic practice, always saying yes and rest is a challenging one.

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