by Nikki Devereux | 11.04.20
I wonder if all artists can relate to the “writer’s block” that sometimes strikes when we stare at a blank page. It’s true, inspiration is everywhere, but sometimes applying it can be tricky. I could probably create a list of the reasons that writer’s block strikes me; from being exhausted by a busy life to being distracted and tempted by a bright sunny day, they are as varied and plentiful as life experiences themselves. Sometimes, I find that just stepping away and giving in to my distraction helps me to come back to the page, refreshed. Other times, I sit and stare at the blank page as it stares back at me, willing myself, forcing myself to just write something, anything! And here it is.
Brief History of the Person
My name is Nikki Devereux. I was born in Lancaster, PA, and lived halfway between that city and Philadelphia throughout my childhood. Across the street from my childhood home was a vast and stretching Amish farm, beautiful, glowing and dewey in the morning (my house faced East so my bedroom window, being in the front of the house, faced East and the farm). It was a beautiful sight that I took for granted. On the other hand, the city of Philadelphia was merely 30 minutes away without traffic. Our location afforded us these two worlds – the open, rolling greenery of the country and the close, contagious chaos of the city. I loved both, but my youth and energy craved the city.
After I graduated high school I went on to college. Long story short, I ended up living in several cities, including Pittsburgh, New York City, and Philadelphia, for various lengths of time in my 20’s as I pursued my bachelors degree in psychology, before shipping myself down to St. Petersburg, FL, where my parents had moved when I was in college. They had dreamed of living in Florida since our first trip to Disney World when I was 8 or 9 – this magical oasis with palm trees, beaches, and warm, intoxicating weather. I’m so glad they lived out their dream, because #1 they deserve it! #2 it showed me that dreams really can come true, and #3 it brought me here to this wonderful City of St. Petersburg that I love with all my heart. I’ve now lived in St. Petersburg for almost as long as I lived in my childhood home. I have a family of my own here and plan on raising my daughter here. Of all the places I have lived, this has FELT the most like home.
Brief History of the Artist
Since this is an introductory piece, I will start from the “beginning.” I come from a family of creators; not artists in the traditional sense of the word, but creative people nonetheless. My mother had a workshop in our basement. Mine was right next to hers. Hers contained all varieties of flowers, branches, and leaves. Anything she could find to make flower arrangements and wreaths. She sold her wreaths on the road in front of our home. She displayed them with large price tags and people would stop, pull into our driveway, and purchase her creations. They were often big, beautiful, ostentatious.
My father was a home-builder. He could build an entire house with the help of one other person. He even owned an excavator so he could level his own building sites. He purchased and customized architectural drawings and had a signature custom fine carpentry sunburst that he added to the front porch of each home. Both of my parents were not only creative, they were resourceful and motivated. I inherited all of these traits.
Other members of my family occupy a vast array of creative spaces, including graphic designer, sculptor, chef, writer. I love that we all have different skill sets, yet share this unifying artistic spirit.
I was always making things as a kid. One of my most influential childhood artistic endeavors was when I took an oil painting class at 13 years old. The class was full of adults – I was probably the youngest by 30 or 40 years. We all sat quietly focused on our work, with the easy listening station on in the background of that dimly lit, dank basement home of John something (I can’t remember the instructor’s last name). It was so wonderful, I can still smell the musty wood and turpentine, feel the damp chill, and I get flashbacks whenever I listen to the Tampa station 105.5, The Dove.
Throughout my school years I was constantly creative, writing poetry, sketching, painting. In college I wrote poetry, made jewelry, and even made some of my own skincare products. Much of these activities I still do to this day.
Why Mixed Media?
Mixed media is something I’ve dabbled in for a long time until I fully embraced it as my medium of choice. I used to create collages in my travel journals as I was backpacking from hostel to hostel. I collected items from my journey and pasted them into the pages of my journal, along with magazine clippings and other imagery. I still cherish those pieces and they bring back a lot of wonderful memories.
It all started with photography. I fell in love with film when I took a class in high school, and returned to it after college. I became focused on fashion editorial photography, telling stories through clothing, set and props, publishing my work in Indie fashion magazines across the globe. My style suited magazines like Peppermint more than the likes of Vogue. Gradually, as I worked my way towards portraiture and telling stories through expression, pose, and eye contact, I started using mixed media to add texture and depth to my work. I was no longer satisfied with fashion photography, I started to find it limiting and shallow, no matter what I did.
Portraiture became my primary form of photographic expression, and I fully dedicated myself to the practice of mixed media and building new techniques to use in that practice. I began layering paint with different types of papers, always with my photographs ink transferred onto a wood substrate. I’ve experimented with burned paper, used different types of leaves and barks, and all manner of magazine, newspaper and book clippings. With mixed media, there is no limit to what you can use. Look around you, what do you see? Mixed media materials galore!
What I particularly loved about this was that things that were once “garbage” became potential art supplies. If I carefully considered how they were applied so as not to create what may look like an actual pile of garbage, I could mask my disposables and blend them into my work with finesse. How wonderful! To cut down my landfill footprint with my art. I couldn’t ask for a better combination of two passions in my life.
My work has evolved from fashion photographs of 10 years ago:
To my current mixed media pieces: