A multimedia exhibit, “Portrayals of Primal Forces,” in Gallery 1308 at Union South, 1308 W. Dayton St., was inspired by geology.
Artist Nicole Shaver explains that we are currently in a peculiar geological period in which humans dominate the influence on the environment. The shifts in nature over time are because of us; therefore from the top of mountains down to the shorelines is a man-made wilderness.
“This exhibition reaches to those who have idealized landscape and yearned to keep it in their pocket, as if a stone found on a path,” Shaver said in her artist’s statement. “Referencing our innate compulsion to see, feel, collect, contain, worship and memorialize an ever-transitioning planet.”
Shaver, herself, has collected beachwood and glacial erratic – a piece of rock that is not native to the area where it was found and was carried by glacial ice over distances up to hundreds of miles – and included it in pieces of her art. Photographs, collage, oil, brass, steel, hot-pressed foil, and photogravure are other techniques and mediums incorporated in her exhibit.
“My curiosity of materials and techniques follow the impulse for the making of the thing and are amended along the way,” said Shaver in an email interview. “By switching media from a painting to a photo to a video to a projection, the impetus of the work becomes refined.”
Growing up in Port Washington, Shaver developed an interest in geology due to an inherited third-generation rock collection and access to an unlimited supply of glacial erratic on the beaches along the shores of Lake Michigan. While pursuing her bachelors in fine arts degree at UW-Madison, she furthered her studies with geology and geography classes. And, while at the University of Iowa during her masters of fine arts fellowship, she pursued specialized study of the National Parks and art/geology department collaborations for teaching opportunities.
A lifelong artist, Shaver remembers “sort of doing ‘art’ all along” – from a kindergarten painting diary with a Lisa Frank cover, to a four-painting series (complete with googly eyes and measuring 24-by-48 inches each) of her dad fishing, to linoleum printing, ceramics, and large-scale papier-mâché, to nowadays working on a photo series at the studio, concrete drying in the basement, framing in the dining room, and sculpture work in progress in dad’s garage.
Currently, Shaver manages a collaborative artist-run photography and printmaking studio, Studio 224, in Port Washington. She is looking forward to working on a solo exhibition as artist-in-residence at James Black Gallery in Vancouver, British Columbia, in March.