To Ponder Three by Nicole Nienow immediately drew my attention from across the gallery. The ceramic faces are simultaneously attractive and repellant, with their over-sized features and penetrating gazes. Despite the fact that the artist mostly uses brown tones, the colors are nuanced and effective, highlighting the dark creases of these creatures’ twisted faces. I was both horrified and delighted by this piece – would I ever be bold enough to display something like this in my living room? One of the most intriguing details is the interior of the piece, which I almost found more off-putting than the painful grimace of the faces. The interior is spattered with orange paint drips, and the effect of the glaze around the edge makes it looks cracked and crusty. The combined textural effect of the drips and the edges conjures less-than-pleasant comparisons, but the intentionality behind this effect is precisely why I was so captivated by the interior and this piece as a whole. There is a delicate balance between the hyperbolic grotesqueness of the facial features and the overall proportions of the piece that make it just so captivating to look at.
Nicole's artwork is currently on display in our 2020 EAC Faculty Exhibition.