Nicole Dixon


Nicole Dixon was born in Oakland, CA and in 2002, received a BA in Studio Art at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA. In addition to exhibiting paintings, she has produced commissioned works, including family portraits and in-home murals, for over a decade. She has served as the altar-artist for numerous gatherings, conferences and activist organizations. She is also Montessori preschool teacher, and firmly believes education and creative expression go hand-in-hand. She teaches art to youth and adults alike, which has taken her as far as the Kalahari as guest art instructor. Nicole uses art as an interactive medium, and vehicle for self-transformation, community bridge-building, and positive social change.

Transcendent Iconography-
There is always something unseen: a life force in natural objects- charcoal, paper, feathers, wood in a technological age, an ancient human need for ritual and spiritual purpose in a secular society, a power in those who are most marginalized by institutional oppressions.  I have always been drawn to the unseen, and find that the journey of seeking what lies beneath is an ancient one.

Throughout my artistic career, I often used art as a tool for both purging myself of all that was too much to bear, and simultaneously making a socio-political statement.  As an African-American woman in the US, so many strong and complex emotions are kindled while walking in this skin- It feels impossible to hold them inside, and shameful to not speak out against the innumerable institutional injustices affecting so many lives.  My work was often narrative, at times quite literal, and always reflective of those strong emotions.  Perhaps this socio-political primordial soup is where my heavy-handed use of materials, sharply contrasting tones, and emotive figures first evolved.

At some point along my journey, I developed a yearning for healing, for some iconography that gave those emotions a transcendent purpose and gave me a cathartic and rejuvenating feeling.  I began to use the bodies of the figures I created as a site of power and dialogue.  I adorned them with empowering symbols, highlighted their inner strengths with gilded emblems, and gave them a spiritual purpose.  They were contradicting negative stereotypes without needing to address them directly.  Creating these figures became a ritual, a visual tool for self-transformation, and I hoped the viewers would have transcendent experiences as well.

Over the past ten years, I have been exploring mixed media.  Layering drawing, painting, fabric, paper, and even natural objects seems to reflect the complex nature of the themes that drive the subject matter.  I use symbolic imagery- animal totems, flowers and medicinal herbs, iridescent gold, and cultural emblems as offerings that honor the subjects of my work.

The subjects of my current body of work are presented in a moment along a journey where something hidden is revealed.  Someone is guided at a crossroads in a forest; someone is standing on the shoulders of those who have come before; someone has all they need to survive the impossible; someone finds their heart is as light as a feather; someone is moved by an unseen hand; someone reaches the end of their journey through the proverbial desert; someone finds healing in vulnerability.  All are visual touchstones for keeping me whole on my own path.

I am using the human body as a transcendent icon.  The subjects of my work are the embodiments of socio-cultural, political, and spiritual journeys.  My hope is that they become universal figures partnering with the viewer in a journey towards healing, transformation, and community empowerment.