Welcome to Chicago North Shore Moms weekly Meet a Mom series where we feature one local mama, what they’re up to both personally and professionally. This week’s Meet a Mom feature is the lovely North Shore native & Glencoe mama of three boys, Nicole Gordon! Nicole is a painter and installation artist who defines her style as contemporary Surrealism. She has an impressive portfolio of solo and group exhibitions nationally, and while this outlet has been grounded due to the pandemic, curated commissions are keeping this mama busy. Welcome, Nicole!
HI Nicole! We are so thrilled that you are a part of our series! Please introduce yourself.
HI! My name is Nicole Gordon. I grew up in Glenview and now live in Glencoe. My family and I moved back to the North Shore around 7 years ago. Before we moved to Glencoe we lived in the West Loop in Chicago for 15 years. My husband grew up outside of Ann Arbor, Michigan and loved that Glencoe has a small-town feel, similar to where he grew up.
You’re a mama! How many kiddos do you have and how old are they?
I have three boys:11 year old twins and an 8 year old.
You’re a mompreneur! Please introduce yourself as a painter and installation artist.
Yes! I am a painter and installation artist and typically spend my studio time creating work for gallery and museum exhibitions. I recently had a multi-sensory exhibition at the Bellevue Arts Museum outside of Seattle that included paintings and immersive, interactive sculptural installations. I often recreate elements of the paintings three-dimensionally which gives the viewer a sense that they have physically entered the narrative of the painting. I love both painting and the challenge of translating imagery into sculptural form.
What is your painting “style”?
I think my paintings can be described as contemporary Surrealism: I often merge images from the past and present to create dreamscapes and narratives that are fantastical and couldn’t possibly exist in reality.
How large are your canvases and how long does a painting typically take from start to finish?
Where do you typically paint? How do you achieve without distractions from your children?
I have a studio at home so luckily I’ve been able to keep working with the kids home much more than usual this year. I’m constantly distracted but have learned to paint in short bursts throughout the day, sometimes for only an hour at a time.
Who are your influencers or mentors that have helped you get to where you are today?
Regarding my artistic practice the most influential people in my life have been incredible and dedicated teachers that I’ve had along the way. I had a very encouraging and supportive high school art teacher who encouraged me to study art at the University of Michigan. While at the University of Michigan I studied under a professor who taught me so much about how to think creatively and inspired my love of mixed media work.
What advice can you give other mamas out there who are looking to start a new business in the current climate?
I think it’s really important to get creative about different ways of promoting oneself and finding new avenues of expression. For me and other artists, this past year has been tough for the art world as galleries and museums are shuttered, either temporarily or in some cases permanently. Since working towards gallery exhibitions is currently on the back burner, I’ve been focusing much more on commissioned work and online exhibitions.
What is a common question that people reach out to ask you?
I am often asked about commissioned artwork and until recently haven’t been able to dedicate time to commissions. I have really been enjoying weaving in personal elements with my signature surrealist style to create paintings for individual clients. It’s been very rewarding to be able to stay true to my style while also adding personal touches that really make the work special and unique for each client.
What’s on the horizon for your art?
I’ve spent the last few years working towards so many exhibitions and this is the first time in quite a while that I’ve been able to enjoy the studio without the pressure of multiple deadlines. I’m enjoying experimenting with new ideas in the studio while at the same time keeping structure to my studio practice, with ongoing commissions and participating in online exhibitions.
Can you tell us more about the nonprofit, Twist Out Cancer that you recently partnered with?
I recently completed a painting for a Twist Out Cancer event called Brushes with Cancer. Brushes with Cancer matches artists with those touched by cancer to create unique pieces of artwork reflective of their journey. It was an incredibly rewarding and intimate experience to create a painting of someone’s very personal journey after several months of connecting via Zoom and in-person meetings. You can find out more about the organization at: www.twistoutcancer.org/brushes/.
That must feel so rewarding to be a part of that project. How can we connect with you to find out more about your work or to commission a painting?