This month Featured Artist is Nicole Charbonnet, and she cannot be described as “emerging” in the usual sense of the word; her reputation as a leading contemporary artist has already been made. What does continue to emerge, however, is Nicole’s gifted ability to transform perceptions of memory into dynamic visual forms; like memory itself, not quite abstract, but quite real.
Nicole is often inspired by “Stereotypical images of America”, where among which, of course, the horse ranks high. Her works are not in oil, neither are they water colors nor acrylics, but rather a lengthy build up of various mediums that achieve her desired effect. In her own words, “The superimposition of textures, images, words, loose watery washes of paint, and veils of translucent fabric or paper, creates a visual threshold in my work which is something to look at, as well as to look through”.
Born in 1966 in New Orleans, the city she regards as “The most European” in North America, and in which she still resides, Nicole studied at the New Orleans Academy of Fine Art before spending two years in France. During her tenure at the Cleveland Institute of Art, Lacoste, and the Academie Goetz in Paris, Nicole was exposed to the works of many contemporary artists of the European school, and upon returning to the United States, she earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Virginia, followed by a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Boston University.
Nicole’s creative artistry is well recognized with numerous prestigious honors and awards, among which are grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the Louisiana Division of Arts, and the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation. She has exhibited her work throughout North America and abroad.
While Nicole continues to explore subjects in the American West, the horse among them, she is also involved in the on-going recovery of her beloved native city. During post- Hurricane Katrina, Nicole was out digging among the wreckage that most of us merely viewed on the news. Her reason: “I am incorporating actual pieces of people’s lives (what was destroyed)…and transforming (the pieces) into something new, and hopefully, something beautiful”.
Some of Nicole’s artwork is exhibited in the Muse Gallery, Jackson Hole, which reflects the western lifestyle through contemporary art, outstanding sculpture, and unique jewelry; all within the nurturing walls of one of the oldest buildings in Jackson. In close proximity to Yellowstone National Park, and to many superb summer and winter vacation getaways, the gallery is well visited year round.
When interviewed about the prestigious gallery, owner Tayloe Piggott exuded an inherent love of contemporary art in all forms, and is completely at ease with her and her husband Mike’s decision to choose a lifestyle in the West, over what easily could have been two recognized careers in the more traditional art centers of the East. They were not alone in their appreciation of this area; here are a few random observations on Jackson, Wyoming:
In 2006, and it probably hasn’t changed, Teron County was the wealthiest per capita in the United States, and if you are looking to purchase art, Jackson Hole is rated as one of the top five locations in the entire country. The Town Square has an arch at each corner constructed entirely of elk antlers, shed annually and collected by the local Boy Scouts, and finally, the county is home to many well known, yet low profile names including actors, politicians, and captains of industry. Harrison Ford and Dick Cheney serve as adequate examples.
Should you find yourself in Western Wyoming, stop by the Muse Gallery in Jackson; you will be made very welcome, and as the name suggests, you will “Look wonderingly at art”.