Christina Nicola is a mixed media artist from Miami, FL who focuses on highlighting the significance of black men and women through her work. In 2015, Christina Nicola graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelors degree in studio art, specializing in drawing and painting. Christina Nicola uses a variety of mark making techniques in her pieces, employing charcoal, oil pastels, paint, and several other mediums as she believes, “the greatest aspect of art making is creating the form by whatever means necessary”.
“All energy, all heart”, is how Christina Nicola describes her own work. Born in Dallas, Texas, Christina Nicola has spent most of her life in Miami. Being a black woman of both Caribbean and African American descent, living in South Florida continues to inspire and influence her work.
“What I really love about my Jamaican culture and being from Miami is that it gives me this insight and opportunity I would never get elsewhere. Miami is this other world when it comes to living in diversity. In South Florida, there’s this focus and support for recognizing of artists of color.”
This sort of representation is incredibly important to Nicola as her work tends to focus on the visual and political complexities of black men and women. Nicola takes a unique approach to what she calls “making melanin”.
“To me, it’s almost absurd that races can be simplified into such basic classifications as “black, white, brown, tan…the irony is that there is so much more to race than this”.
With her remarkable sense of form and color, Christina Nicola’s work essentially focuses on deconstructing blackness— visually, politically, and conceptually
“Afrogalactic Girl and the Freudian Slip”
Acrylic, chalk, oil pastel and tar on wood
During her final semester of her undergraduate studies, Nicola focused on work for her series “F21” and “AfroGalactic Girl”. These series touched on celebrating the beauty of black hair and skin, as well as exploring the stereotypes placed on black women by society. Following university, Christina Nicola has gone on to show in over 12 different shows, including the 2016 Art Africa Art Fair as well as the 2017 Superfine Art Fair in Manhattan, NY. Currently, Nicola is gearing up for the 2017 Art Basel season, as well as preparing for shows in 2018.
On Making Black Art
Admittedly as a student at university, Nicola never sought out to make “black art”. “To me it was too much—almost limiting in a way, to be defined as a “black artist” that makes “black art”, she recalls. “What I didn’t realize was that regardless of what I would paint, people would never not associate blackness with my work”.
This became apparent in the black and white charcoal drawings that Nicola created in college. “I wouldn’t always be drawing a black person, but people would come up to me and say, ‘so you paint black people?’ I would always hesitantly reply, “not really, no… not necessarily…why do they have to be black?”
This ascription of blackness however, occurred quite frequently, even as Christina Nicola would paint non-POC people.
halk and charcoal on wood
“My style, my hand, my mark-making will always emphatically be black—the hand of a black artist. I accept that and I’ve realized that that was never a bad thing. I’m black and the world I experience hinges on my identity. That’s it and that’s wonderful.”
The Strength in Suffering
Nicola embracing the term “black art” is now more evident than ever, as she launches into work for her new series, “LifeBloodlust”. Lifebloodlust focuses on posing black strength against modern society. In this series, Nicola examines negritude, and the search for strength and pride as a culture and society.
Watercolor, acrylic, oil paste, India ink and
collage on a clear acrylic frame/p>
Watercolor, acrylic, oil paste, India ink and
collage on canvas
Acrylic, oil pastel, watercolor
and nail polish on canvas
“This series is very close to me and is itself changing my life, and the way I react to the past, the present, and my hopes for the future—both personally and for society itself. Following a tragedy or in light of injustice or violence, we have this way of distancing ourselves or minimizing the severity of the situation as a way to cope with what is happening. This series, for me, is a way to stop and reflect—on the severity, on the despair, on the grief, on the brutality, and on hope.
“I find myself increasingly more emotionally involved now, where as before I hoped to process things quickly and avoid deep emotional discomfort. As I pour through research, writings, and images for my work, I find myself constantly haunted, thankful and full of sadness for the work that has been done and the work that still must be done.”