Featured Artist Nikole Cooney
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Featured Artist Nikole Cooney

- edited by: Glenn Shuck

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Nikole Cooney is a contemporary sculptor and painter living in Jacksonville, FL. Nikole is best known for her surreal and fantastic imagery reflecting her connection with animals and deep appreciation for the natural world.

Nikole Cooney’s sculptures will captivate and leave you suspended in a world of surrealist wonder. Nikole’s sculptures are mixed media; often beginning with clay, but materials like copper, citrine, epoxy and peacock ore are all among the list of things used to enhance her sculptures. Cooney is known for her animal figures being placed in settings that cause the viewer to search and ask questions. For example, her sculpture, In Need of New Perspectives, Cooney places an octopus in a Victorian hot air balloon. As you look at this scene it appears the sculpture is floating through the air. You cannot help but wonder where this octopus is going, and what exactly it is in search of.

Originally from Illinois, Nikole and her artist husband, Eric, moved to Jacksonville, FL 4 years ago. Since she has arrived it is clear to see how aquatic themes have embedded and enhanced her work. In her recent piece, Unfurl, Cooney places a white Ibis over an open egg. The tentacles of what we assume to be an octopus are seen wrapping upward toward the Ibis. This scene fills your imagination with curiosity. Other scenes like, Trigger, demonstrate Conney’s mastery of materials.

It is no surprise her extraordinary work has been selected by Beautiful Bizarre Magazine to be launched- TO THE MOON! Yes, you heard it correctly. Her work has been digitized and will be launched to the moon in 2023 and stored in a Lunar Codex time capsule.

Keep your eyes on Nikole Cooney- she literally is a rising star in Jacksonville, FL.

Cooney exhibits locally at the Ponte Vedra Cultural Center, ArtBox in St. Augustine, and Haven Gallery in New York. ArtBox in St. Augustine, and Haven Gallery in New York.

Artist shares her passion for wildlife and ocean creatures through sculpture

In what part of the First Coast do you reside now and how long have you lived there? 

We have lived in Jax Beach for about 4 years now.

How long have you been doing your craft or trade? 

About 33 years.

What brings out your creativity? 

Well…several things really. Most often, if I just BEGIN (always the challenging part. lol)  then ideas flow to me. Other times a walk, a great conversation, reading, or a meditation. Sometimes they come when I am trying to fall asleep. Inspiration comes when I quiet my mind.

What does your work aim to say? Are you trying to bring a smile to someone’s face or add to someone’s home decor? 

I like my work to evoke wonder. I would like to give someone that pause on life for a moment, to marvel at our natural world, or to escape on a journey of the imagination.

Are there any spaces or designers that have influenced you? 

Some amazing modern-day artists I favor are Forest Rogers (sculptor) and Daniel Merriam (painter). They both bring a sense of fun and joy to their work.

What is your favorite artistic accomplishment? 

My work is going to the moon!! I was featured in an article in Beautiful Bizarre Magazine. That issue, along with several others, has been digitally archived onto nickel-shielded memory cards that will be placed into three different time capsules headed to the moon. My work and editorial will be included in the Lunar Codex Polaris time capsule which will head to the south pole of the moon in Autumn 2023 via the Astrobotic Griffin/NASA VIPER mission.
You can read more about the mission at https://www.lunarcodex.com

Do you have a specific piece you would love to talk about or promote? 

I would like to briefly talk about a new body of work that my husband and I created collaboratively. Eric and I are both artists. Our courtship centered around creating art many moons ago. Previously, Eric’s work was more conceptual and mine is/was surreal and narrative. We combined our talents, and love of water and wildlife this year to create a body of work we call Deep Blue. It focuses on our ocean inhabitants highlighting coral reefs. We dove into the Deep Blue to raise some of our inspiration to the surface. Check it out on our website (nikolecooney.com) and ArtBox in St. Augustine. We hope you enjoy it!

What is the best way for artists to network? 

I believe going to gallery openings and local shows/fairs is a great way to meet other artists & art lovers. Today we can find art groups online as well, which is great when you can’t get out. However, since the pandemic, I think we need human interaction more than ever. Nothing beats the fire in someone’s eyes when they speak about their artwork. Nothing beats the passion an art lover will have for a piece that moves them. When the two collide it is powerful.

If you had a question you would like to ask another artist what would it be? 

I am fascinated by the daily habits of other artists. Art-making approaches are so diverse. Some artists begin with a sketch, a walk, journaling, breakfast with a friend, etc. Some create from a large, public studio. Some make magnificent intricate pieces on their dining room table. Some get up before dawn and some find they are moved to create at night. I am intrigued by the creative process itself. It’s a mysterious thing to me.

What’s the best thing for you about living on the First Coast? 

In short…Nature!! My family moved here from the Midwest 4 years ago. I grew up in the country along the Mackinaw River in Illinois. I’ve always been a nature and wildlife lover which is the inspiration behind ALL of my work. The coast is so abundant with natural beauty. Whether a walk in a park, a stroll by the ocean, or in my backyard,  I see new plants and animals I was not familiar with. That newness gives me a renewed sense of awe to explore and learn.

How can we see your work? 

My website and shop at www.nikolecooney.com are now stocked and updated with my work and the collaborative body of work my husband and I created together. Add yourself to the mailing list to learn about upcoming exhibits. Currently, we are exhibiting at ArtBox in St. Augustine, FL. I also have work at Haven Gallery in Long Island, NY.

Instagram: @nikolecooney
FB: https://m.facebook.com/NikoleCooneyArt/

Is there anything else that you want to tell everyone? 

Life is meant to be enjoyed. Make art, enjoy art, enjoy nature. I believe they are here to be a salve during challenging times.

Suggest a Story: FCL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so when you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

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