Artist Feature: Nike Schröeder
Meet Nike Schröeder!
She was born in Hamburg, Germany and after many stops around the world she settled in Los Angeles in 2012. She now lives in Echo Park with her wife, two cats and three chickens. When she is not in her downtown studio, you can find her digging in her garden, trying out new recipes in the kitchen, or exploring trails in and around LA.
Read more about Nike in our Q&A with her below:
Hello! Tell us who you are:
My name is Nike Schroeder - I am an artist mostly known for my fiber work.
Where is home?
I am German born and raised, and a LA transplant since 10 years.Tell us a little about you and what you do!
I live in Echo Park/Los Angeles with my wife, 2 cats and 3 chickens and lots of other birds and squirrels. I am a painter, sculptor and fiber artist mostly known for my abstract embroidery work. My Studio is in downtown LA in the landmark building called the Bendix Building, into which more and more artists and galleries are moving. It is becoming quite an art hub, and it is fascinating to see it grow and be part of this community. I try to bicycle to my studio as much as I can. That way I get to see all the changes that happen downtown as well and feel more exposed to the city.
If I am not working in my studio or on some house projects, I work as a Still Life Stylist on photoshoots.What is your preferred medium?
I am really enjoying to see the restorative return to ancient materials such as ceramics, wood working and fiber/rope. I feel a lot more women have come through to lead major design trends, and there is a new sensitivity visible. An attention to small detail, an appreciation of labor and an awareness of environmental and humanitarian issues. I love this holistic approach to creating a beautiful space.
I believe there to be a collective consciousness that is trying to step back from digital devices and slow down in general. Creating fiber art usually requires a lot of focus and consumes a lot of time. It is a great way to take a break from moving fast and multitasking. It provokes an archaic feeling of joy to make something with your hands and end up with a beautiful result that is haptic. It is very rewarding to put a lot of time into something and see it slowly come together.
So in short: I love fiber, paint and ceramics.Do you have a favorite type of material you like to work with?
In my textile work, I mostly work with rayon thread, because I love the smooth quality of the yarn and it ethereal qualities it evokes when it’s moving.
I most definitely have bought Modern Macramé materials before for some home DIY projects, just to try something different and new and step out of my box. I love the color options and the natural feel of your macrame rope!Does the place you come from affect your work?
I think it most certainly does. I believe that every experience you make or place you live gets added to your social and personal DNA, and affects your view on the world. Your perspective on life most definitely has a form shaping quality on your work, and often times is what the work is about itself. Being German makes me have a quite practical way of handling my studio practice and I have a hard time letting anything go to waste.
What was your process in becoming an Artist/Designer?
I have a degree in Art therapy from Germany and first focused on a lot of Social Practice Art, going into communities with the goal of giving them access to artistic expression - and, with that, hopefully to themselves. I loved working project based like that and traveling the world, learning ways from different communities and teaching them about mine.
Once I moved to LA, I luckily got picked up by a gallery and things shifted for me into a fine arts career. As much as I miss the rewarding aspect of working more as an Art Therapist, I truly enjoy where I am today with my own practice. I now get to do my own work and collaborate with a lot of creative people in the Design, Art and Architecture fields. So much more to learn!What is your design inspiration?
Once I find myself receptive to it, inspiration could be anything: emotions, nature, a certain gesture someone does, how the light hits a plant or a building, music. Saying open and curious is the most important thing to stay inspired.
But of course going out to see art in real life is something really important. Going to museums and gallery openings allows me to be physically immersed in the work and experience it first hand. To get in touch with the energy surrounding the work is super inspiring and on top of that you get to support the art community. Now my combinations are mostly evoked by feelings. I find it fascinating to convert emotions to a color scheme and learn about the universal language of how certain colors are associated with certain emotional notions across the globe.
Describe your personal style.
All my different bodies of work tell a different story. I do like to think about my work as an continuous search for beauty. The goal is to capture and immortalize moments of beauty that are often overlooked. I hope my work evokes the association of something simply beautiful, light and ethereal. I hope for the work to create a quiet and calm space, where thoughts can be forgotten and peaceful energy can be conjured. I am very humbled when people pause and get lost in the colors and the movement.
So I guess the message is, try to get lost, take a breath or two and let go...
What is your favorite knot or technique?
Haha, I embroider and “unknot” my thread so to speak.How do you define yourself or your work?
It is hard for me to do that, so thank God there are critics that are way better at that. As for an artist statement, there is this wonderful article that Shana Nys Dambrot wrote and I really could not say it any better:
- “Nike Schroeder is one of the better known figures in the loosely-termed “textile arts” wing of contemporary art, which is fine because although she doesn’t use literal fabrics per se, she does work in permutations of thread and canvas. But despite that as well as her work’s salient qualities of sculpture and installation, what Schroeder accomplishes can be fundamentally understood as painting by another means. Her (….work) exemplifies the cadence of her more abstractionist sensibilities, a kind of soft-focus Op-Art in which pure color is deployed and dissolved as the cascading drape of the gently shimmering unspooled rayon thread itself enacts the goals of abstract painting, becoming both color and line at the same instant. (…Her) ongoing series — Convex/Concave and Fragments — both exple formulas of abstraction that speak a Rothko/Martin language of chromatic conceptualism, in contrast to other more provocative figurative and narrative embroidered works. Instead of by needle, these gradient staccato color-fields are composed by hanging multihued rayon threads from custom-made canvas panels. The rayon gossamer accrues in her bunchings enough weight to engage gravity and thus be held in vertical sway, affected not overmuch but quite poetically by the slightest breeze.
- Her structured canvas/panel armatures are tiered with terrace-like protrusions that hold rows of thread at different depths off the wall, generating physical space between hanging rows of thread, wherein ambient light may also be seen at play. Slight variations in the position of these anchoring tiers organize straight lines and chevrons, upwards and inverted, that set, like the armature of a loom, the colored lines upon their vectors. The undyed portions of thread, the empty space between tendrils, and the white wall behind all conspire in a not-quite-illusion to fulfill the boundaries of a conventional painted composition. The effect conveys simultaneously the sense of being created and the ruin of unraveling — of being, if you will, drawn and erased — by the same gesture.
- A monumental and meditative cat’s cradle, a Zen kind of entertainment, and a complex study in both organic, fractal math and the energetic power of speech — the semantic facets of “thread” in all these contexts is metaphor-ready. Schroeder’s facility with hybridizing high art ideas, craft world materials, and a hint of mindful awareness reflects the increasing obsolescence of conventional distinctions between genre, object, and experience of our cultural moment.”
Who is a design icon that you look up to?
I will say that a design icon I personally know is Gere Kavanaugh, as she is my 90 year old neighbor. I look at her as a pioneer in curious design theory, playful color combinations and an adventurer in material combinations. She still walks around the block twice a day, still designs (!) and goes to openings. She is incredibly well connected and well read and it is such a gift to learn about her career and ways she had to push as a designer woman in the 60s.
Nike is represented by Walter Maciel Gallery in LA. Photography by: Marianna Jamadi (instagram: @nomadic_habit).
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