Nike Schroeder: Drawing without a pen
Berlin-based artist Nike Schroeder creates two distinct types of work; breathtakingly beautiful embroidered illustrations and more abstract work, using threads to emulate the appearance of dripping paint. Much of her figurative work examines the idealized beauty of the female form. These pieces feel both intricately composed and unfinished at the same time; the loose ends of thread that hang from her work have become a distinguishing feature. We discovered Nike’s body of work when researching our Spotlight on 5 contemporary artists and were instantly struck by its simplicity and power.
Inspiration waits at every corner
TextileArtist.org: What initially captured your imagination about textile art?
Nike Schroeder: The ability to make a drawing without a pen.
What was your route to becoming an artist? (Formal training or another pathway?)
My mom put me in art school when I was six. I stayed there for about ten years and then had a little studio space in my mom’s basement where I experimented with oils and acrylics and anything I could find really. I was always down there doing something. When I finished high school I went to the University in Hamburg for a while studying economics and was an intern at a design agency. I realized pretty quickly that my path was going to put me in a different direction and chose to go backpacking in Guatemala for a year. It was a year of freedom, lots of drawings, dirty dogs, avocados, life changing realizations and lasting friendships. When I came back I started my degree to become an Art therapist which I finished in 2009. It was in those years that I started embroidery and it has been my close companion ever since. Today it is one of the best ones I have.
Tell us a bit about your process and what environment you like to work in?
I can work in almost every environment – the work never really stops. My friend says she even works in her sleep generating new ideas and I oftentime feel the same. Ideas can come any time and the best ones pop in when you expect it the least. I don’t have a certain process which applies all the time. Some of my work comes to me very intuitively, other work is extremely calculated and researched. I work for myself most of the time but am open to commissions as well. These two ways of working are very different from one another. Currently I am renting a studio space in Downtown LA and love it down there. The art scene is growing rapidly and inspiration waits at every corner.
It all just happens while living
Do you use a sketchbook?
Yes. But the times where I filled one whole book with drawings in a month are over. Now it feels more like documenting as a reference for future projects or drawing out ideas so I don’t forget.
What currently inspires you and which other artists do you admire and why?
It’s the most random things. What I eat or a conversation I overhear waiting at a train station, the movement of my cats or how the light hits my kitchen. I admire all my friends of whom most are artists. What I love most, influences and inspires me. I think sometimes I am not even aware of it – it all just happens while living.
How has your work developed since you began and how do you see it evolving in the future?
I started to use simple embroidery in my sketchbook during my years as an art student in Germany. It then advanced onto canvas but was still only more of an addition to my paintings. The thread then slowly started to develop into its own medium until I felt there was no paint necessary anymore and the stitched lines could hold their own.
When I moved from Berlin to Los Angeles in 2012 I had my first Museum commission at the MOAH in Lancaster, Ca and treated it as a challenge to make something new. It was my first encounter with an abstract piece made entirely out of thread. The piece was called 34°N 118°W and represents an abstraction of the moment when the sun pierces the desert horizon at dawn. It is made out of two canvases which were placed at a prescribed distance apart, creating a locus of conversation between each panel. The top threads slightly touch the lower canvas while leaving drips of cut-off thread on the floor as part of the discussion between materials and location.
What other resources do you use? Blogs, websites, magazines etc.
My main resource is actually going to gallery openings or museum shows. I like to talk to people and I like to see work from different angles and distances. It is always better than just seeing an image. Of course I do also surf the internet, but the stuff that sticks most is what I can see in person and get an actual reaction or feeling to. Yet the web is limitless and I stumble into very interesting stories and images on blogs, such as ignant, colossal, designboom, the jealous curator and so forth. All of those have an incredibly progressive selection of artists, whom I would never come across if it wasn’t for them. My favorite thing are artists portrayed on blogs – I find it incredibly interesting to see how other people work and be introduced to the world that they create around them.
How do you go about choosing where to show your work?
I am very lucky to be represented by Walter Maciel Gallery in Los Angeles. He has taken my work to fairs in San Francisco and Miami and hopefully many more to come. Other than that I discuss my path with him. A second representation in Europe or any other state in the US would be great! Bring it on – we are open.
Where can readers see your work this year?
I have a few projects in the works but they are all still under wraps. Check out my website at: www.nikeschroeder.com for news every once in while or visit my facebook page at: www.facebook.com/nikeschroeder. Oh and I recently got hooked to instagram. Come find me @nikeschroeder. In the meanwhile I was asked to be included in four different book projects this year, of which one has been published so far: Stitch Draw by Rosie James. You can find it on Amazon. The other ones are:
Textile Art around the world by Ellen Bakker and Dorothé Swinkels – Netherlands to be published by the end of 2014
Needle Work by Carolina Amell, MONSA PUBLICATIONS – Barcelona, Spain.
The Craft Companion by Rebecca Jobson and Ramona Barry, Thames & Hudson Australia Pty Ltd – Melbourne, Australia both to be published in 2015.
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