nikki guillemin
nascent five exhibition

nikki guillemin
nascent five exhibition

In conjunction with her CCBC gallery show, we asked artist Nikki Guillemin to share with us a bit about herself, her inspiration and her audience.

Exhibition will be on view in our gallery from jan 4 – jan 18, 2024. 

shifter 3

artist bio
I began my art journey quite recently, about 3 years ago at Langara in their fine arts program. Those first classes sent a bolt through me, and I felt a tide turn and my focus shift.  I will never forget the impact of the first class, our instructor Alwyn Obrien, saying “You want to be immortalized? Make a pot. Anything you make will long outlive you”. I was hooked pretty much immediately. In September 2022 I left my job completely- which was the scariest thing I have ever done. 

The move to arts focus has been one of the most rewarding moves of my life. There was something in my spirit that needed this way of life, this slow-down, this contemplative shift. “Art doesn’t happen in a hurry” was the antidote to a lifetime of rushing, consumerism, scarcity and the spiritual ails of existing in this time of life. Art was universal – ceramics belongs to everyone equally. I felt a part of a deep tradition of the peoples of this earth, even though I am barely out of diapers with it. When I make, I connect to some deeper and larger part of who I am, irrespective of my present identity. I am still learning what it means to have an arts practice, and who I am or where I am going as an artist.

This year I built a raku kiln which has been exciting figuring that out, and I started teaching some classes and that is where the real juice is. I am inspired/ informed by science fiction, joy, absurdity – I love Dadaism, functional work as well as sculptural. I think there is a measure of grief in my work too – for how could there not be at such a time as this? But there is hope too, and silliness and authenticity. Most often I think of the things that I make as “it just came out of me”..

Everyone has the spark of creative force within them- I have always made in some way. The idea of being a professional artist is something I still dance around, but to answer simply, I know in my bones I must do this because it is all I think about. I wake up thinking about clay, and sometimes it keeps me up at night. I have no idea how this will fit into my life, but since I began it has become paramount that it does and as much as possible.  I think like most people who encounter clay, the intrigue of this material is potent. I wanted to touch this thing and squish it and see what I could make it. Clay work is not mastery over a material to execute your will, it is a collaborative relationship with this somehow living mud. You must coax and cajole it, sometimes yielding to its will and plans for you. To share these experiences and explorations with others, held in the permanent snapshot that is a completed work, is an act of human connection and invitation. 

open mouth
lucky boi 2

audience response
I feel like most response from people is “woah” and pleasant confusion? Like it makes them smile, but also they have no idea what it means or is for. I like that. Art doesn’t have to have all the answers, and life often doesn’t. I like leaving questions.