We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicolle LaMere and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicolle, what role has risk played in your life or career?
The life of an artist is inherently risky. As a creative, it is imperative to stay true to my instincts both in and out of the studio. In the past, I’ve pursued opportunities that I believed at the time were impossible to achieve, and yes, sometimes that ended up being true. But because of my willingness to fail, I have reached greater heights and become a stronger person along the way. Perhaps the greatest tool in my toolbox is perseverance.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As an artist, I spend the majority of my time in the zone of, “this is not working.” While experimenting with materials such as clay, paper, plaster, soil, and biological elements such as tumbleweed or symbiotic cultures of bacteria and yeast (SCOBY), I am interested in transforming the impossible to the improbable. I begin my creative process at the far reaches of what the substance can physically handle from either the pull of gravity, extreme temperatures, or tenuous connections while taking half steps from utter disaster towards the line of possibility. Failure has been my friend and constant companion. I am most proud of my growing clarity of artistic vision. It is so incredibly easy for outside comments or comparisons to cloud the decision-making process. I distinctly remember a moment back in grad school where a professor looked me dead in the eye and said, “you are an object maker, stop wasting your time making video work.” At that moment my heart stopped. It was as though my future identity as an artist was put in a clearly defined, finely crafted box. Indeed, I primarily make objects, but I am now confident enough to follow my own judgments on what would be a worthwhile artistic pursuit. Everyone has their own idea of what would be “in your best interest,” but in the end, I am responsible for achieving my vision in whatever form that takes. In the past, I’ve completed research grants blending the sciences and art practice together. This year, I’m so excited to say that I completed a Fulbright application to study ceramics in Japan. As with any application, there is still no guarantee that I’ll receive the opportunity or that the threat of Covid 19 will subside to allow international travel, however, I have grown immensely from clearly stating the benefits of cultural exchange through the arts. There are times when I need to reaffirm the value of the arts and the potential to increase the quality of life for others.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am a young artist with specific interests, so a week-long trip would most likely teeter between the eclectic and the mundane. Many of my friends are also young creatives who are interested in learning and seeing new things. We would definitely spend some time at my studio either at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Box13 ArtSpace, or head to Art League Houston to show off my student’s work from the classes I teach. If the weather is perfect we would hit up H Mart for their fermented bar and boba tea to picnic on the Menil Park before heading to the re-opened Rothko Chapel. Perhaps we would head to 8th Wonder or Moon Tower Inn for a local beer. When thinking of one friend, in particular, we would without a doubt spend an entire day at the Houston Zoo.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am so overwhelmingly grateful for all of the support and encouragement that I received throughout my journey. But as I am currently sitting in my studio at the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, I would have to dedicate this shoutout to them. I began my residency right before the Houston stay at home order was issued. Even though my residency was on hold for quite some time, I still spent every day looking forward with a guiding purpose. Thank you, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, for keeping me grounded, engaged, and hopeful for the future. Come January I will be back to making art at Box13 ArtSpace, thank you for welcoming me back!