�This world would be such a drab place without art. I�m always trying to push people to be more creative,� University of Wisconsin student and aspiring artist Nicole Ecker said when asked what making art means to her. �It�s my life.�
A senior graduating from UW this May with a bachelor�s degree in art, Ecker has already launched the start of her painting career with her latest exhibit. Titled Biomorphic, the two-week exhibit is also Ecker�s first solo showing and features nine of her oil paintings.
It was the last several years of experimentation that brought her to the conceptual style she has identified with and expressed in Biomorphic. Drawn to art since middle school, for many years Ecker has been painting �to freeze frame and portray the world as the moving painting I see it as.�
Aware of what she admits is her �slightly altered mind,� she has come to settle on an abstract, interpretive aesthetic after many years of experimenting to find a style to call her own. �It�s really exciting,� she says, to have found a style she can attach her name to and �push in so many ways I haven�t touched on yet.� Now on the verge of graduation, Ecker says she�s anxious to truly enter the art world, a process already begun with her recent exhibit.
As the etymology of the title Biomorphic suggests, the collection portrays emotional, physical and mental aspects of life in an abstract manner. The organic color choices of the fluid forms highlight the particular mood of each piece as it interacts with the beautiful, multi-layered �drip� backgrounds.
�I want viewers to form their own opinions as to what each biomorphic form and reflecting background means to them,� Ecker says, regarding the desired effect her work has on viewers. �I want something people feel the need to spend the time at.�
And they merit a good amount of the viewers� time indeed. With each painting taking between 20 and 30 hours to make, the painstaking detail is quite evident, especially in the backgrounds. Using a �drip technique� to create the backgrounds, the oils paints are mixed with varying degrees of water and simply allowed to drip down the canvas, leaving an unrestricted, random trail that �reflects nature taking its course.� The colorful layers seem innumerous, creating a stunning effect that oddly makes the backgrounds as much, as if not more, eye-catching than the figures. In what Ecker says is a new fusion of techniques, she matches the rich drip backgrounds with abstract, noodle-y figures that express different states of the human condition. While she encourages the viewer to create their own interpretation of the biomorphic form and reflecting background, each piece shows a different chaotic human interaction with nature with titles such as �Bonding,� �Separation� and �Beginning.� The intensity of the colors and forms similarly vary to match the desired effect.
According to Ecker, the creation process itself is very fluid in nature too. While she decides the colors needed for the general mood and desired aesthetic in advance, beyond that, much of the form develops experimentally on its own as she goes. Allowing the paint to be the focus as it reacts to the canvas, she sculpts the figures as they freely morph. This free transformability results in the canvases of some paintings to end up completely rotated from how they started.
While Ecker asserts her passion and desire to �master� the style she�s come upon, it�s not the only thing that will be occupying her time. After graduation, she intends to move to a city with a bigger art market but to actually find a job in graphic design to �pay the bills.� Painting and getting her art into galleries, she says, will continue on the side, until she�s established enough in the art realm to devote all of her time solely to that. Very confident in her drive to succeed, Ecker asserts that she won�t fall victim to the �starving artist� stereotype and won�t rest until she�s made a name for herself.
There are no new exhibits on the near horizon featuring Ecker�s biomorphic touch, but she has been working as the design coordinator of an independent art magazine, titled Women in Redzine, that will feature one of her paintings on the cover. The magazine will be released around campus on March 25.
Her Biomorphic exhibit is also running for two more days (Friday, March 14 being the last day) at the Second Floor Gallery of the Red Gym (open 8 a.m.-midnight.) Varying in size from a square foot to almost five feet in dimension, a new level of admiration comes with seeing the paintings in person. However, if you cannot make it to her exhibit in the next two days, you can check out her work at her website, where she soon plans to upload the newest biomorphic paintings: http://website.education.wisc.edu/ecker/.