Having previously lived in California, British Columbia, and Texas, we welcome Nicci Sevier-Vuyk to Massachusetts and are pleased to be able to share her works with the New England arts community.
Beginning as a self taught artist, she built a successful career as a pediatric nurse practitioner before turning her attention more fully to her lifelong passion for the arts. Sevier-Vuyk was able to enrich her practice with professional training at the Glassell School of Art in Houston, Texas from 2013 to 2015.
Her paintings and sculptures explore themes of childhood, nostalgia, and aesthetics, questioning cultural norms around beauty. Her floral works explore how natural variations, which might otherwise be perceived as imperfections, actually enhance the beauty of the blossoms she portrays. Sevier-Vuyk shares:
“My work is a reflection of the stereotypes surrounding beauty and appearance. The chrysanthemum portraits I create are an exploration of the fascinating beauty that lies outside the boundaries of society’s definition of what is desirable. The minimalist and representational style of my work encourages an iconic feeling about the chrysanthemum, further magnifying what it means to us as individuals and as a society.”Nicci Sevier-Vuyk
Her works have been displayed in shows across the United States, including two solo shows and several juried exhibitions. Additionally, she has been highlighted in a number of blogs, with notable posts by The Jealous Curator. Currently, Sevier-Vuyk is featuring alongside Domenic Esposito and Sharon Whitham in A Delicate Balance at Beacon Gallery, showing from June 3 to July 17, 2022.
A Delicate Balance explores the human tendency to outwardly present a facade which differs from one’s actual internal emotional state. Focusing on the theme of physical, mental, and emotional challenges, the show seeks to emphasize the universal nature of these experiences and create a sense of human connection to counter feelings of isolation.
Beacon Gallery recently interviewed Nicci Sevier-Vuyk about her path as an artist and how it has guided her to where she is today. The conversation follows:
How did you get started in your career?
I have loved painting and color since I was a kid and wanted to be an artist when I grew up. With the best intentions my parents steered me away from art and as an adult I became a pediatric nurse practitioner. I continued to paint and create when I could and took art classes at the Glassell School of Art in Houston, Texas. Eventually I traded my stethoscope in for a paintbrush and became a full-time artist in about 2015. Although being a PNP was a remarkable experience, being an artist is fulfilling in the most amazing way.
What is/was the hardest obstacle(s) you’ve had to overcome in your career?
For me, time is likely the most difficult aspect of being an artist. Time management is key, but once I begin painting, I often lose track of time and don’t want to stop. In addition, being a solopreneur means that I must spread my time between marketing, business aspects and actual creating (the activity I want to be doing most). I wish there was a way to make a day longer than 24 hours!
What are near-term (and longer-term) plans for the future of your work?
My plans for the future include participating in The Other Art Fair in June 2023, collaborating with other artists to push the boundaries of my work, expanding my connection with the art community in Boston and surrounding areas, placement of my work in commercial spaces, and I’m considering a mural project for 2023.
Who or what inspires you in your work as an artist?
My work is a playful examination of the stereotypes surrounding beauty and appearance. I like to poke fun at these stereotypes by either contradicting them or emphasizing them. I am inspired by nostalgia, childhood memories and familiar objects and how they reflect the contradictions I find in society’s definition of what is desirable.
I am inspired by my favorite artist, Wayne Thiebaud; the iconic nature of the images, often with little emphasis on the background, provides a subject emphasis that I love; plus, his work has a lovely nostalgic feeling. I feel like his work contains sweetly reminiscent curiosity and some degree of humor or irony. I am also inspired by the work of Kelly Reemtsen; her bold images of women in traditional and formal dresses wielding axes, shovels and power tools are wonderful contradictions.
What impact do you hope or want to make on the public (consumers, the art community, your community,) and/or society in general?
I am most interested in causing the viewer of my artwork to pause and consider the conflict of appearance and meaning in their own lives. Can a flower that does not conform to the standard definition of beauty in terms of uniformity, shape and symmetry be beautiful nonetheless? A willingness to look beyond cultural expectations can lead to a more interesting experience, in art and in life.
For 2023 I am considering a mural project at an elementary school that would present the kids with a chance to vote on the flower portrait subject they find most interesting for the mural.
Can you share an important misstep you made in your career, and the outcome? What lesson did you learn that may help others, and what advice would you give your younger self?
At times I do wish I had followed my instincts as a teen and moved toward a career in art creation and painting as a young adult. I feel our mistakes are part of the evolution of who we are and so I would tell my younger self to follow my instincts and any missteps that occur are just part of learning, and nothing to fear.
Can you share something about yourself that others might be surprised to learn?
I grow my own chrysanthemums and have hundreds of source photos of imperfect blooms; my area of expertise. I am very good at mixing and recreating paint color. I have a large toy car collection and have just started a Barbie shoe collection – both are excellent still life subjects. I love chocolate, but not candy in general.
Many thanks to Nicci for taking the time to share with us. To keep up with Nicci Sevier-Vuyk and her creations, visit her website and follow her on Instagram @nicciseviervuyk.
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