The White Wall: Natasha Nicholson: The Artist in Her Museum

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by Elena Norcross, Staff Writer

Right now at The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, visitors can get a glimpse into the habitat of the artist through the exhibition Natasha Nicholson: The Artist in Her Museum.

The exhibition engages museum goers as they receive an intimate glimpse into the home of Nicholson. Instead of seeing the often imagined cramped studio with smudged canvases and drying brushes, viewers find a cozy dwelling holding eclectic objects. From inside the pages of an art history book to a beaded chair, Nicholson reveals where the seeds of her ideas are found and fostered.

Within the ”museum” are four spaces: Thinking Room, Strata, Studiolo and Bead Room. Each one houses different elements of the artistic life of Nicholson.

Thinking Room is homey and comfortable. Books spiral upward to the ceiling, notes are taped to the wall next to a chair, and a bundle of twigs rest beneath. Fuel for the artistic fire?

Thinking Room. Photo by Eric Ferguson
Thinking Room. Photo by Eric Ferguson

Strata is next when maneuvering through the “museum.” Within the space, visitors are launched into the mind of the artist. Sculptures composed of curling wire intertwined with hair depict the relationship between art and the creator. Many of the objects are created in such a way that the viewer’s understanding of the object itself is challenged. This room is where the muse meets with the artist. Small houses lacking walls are  furnished by lonely pieces of furniture, the walls removed.

Studiolo is incredibly interesting; appearing like a curiosity shop and sitting room of Sherlock Holmes in one. A well stocked bookcase is on one wall, a giant plaster chart of human organs on the other. It is filled with her collectibles and visitors must hunt to discover all of the curiosities. Small objects hide on shelves or are eclipsed by bell jars. Each is a contained story with the potential of becoming art. All it needs are the hands of the artist to bring it out.

The Bead Room depicts another interest of Nicholson which is jewelry making. The room contains drawers with beads in every hue and necklaces that could swing around the necks of Park Avenue socialites. Unique stones are gathered on strings to create portable collections.

Natasha Nicholson:The Artist in Her Museum shows museum-goers that the home of an artist functions as her nest of inspiration. It is where the artist creates her ideas, walks them to the canvas and then lets them go.
On Saturday October 10, the MMoCA is hosting Nicholson for a reception in which she will discuss her “museum.”.

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