Nikki McClure

Nikki McClure is an Olympia-based artist who has worked in cut paper for the last 20 years. Her work can be seen illustrating a variety of books, calendars and paper goods all around the Northwest Coast. She was featured in a solo exhibition titled Cutting Her Own Path,: Nikki McClure 1996-2011, a 15 year retrospective, organized by the Museum of Contemporary Craft, in Portland, and featured at Antioch College, and Bellevue Arts Museum 2012. She is the recipient of the Scanduzzi Award, National Outdoor Book Award and Gold Medal Parent’s Choice Award for  “To Market, To Market”, 2011-2012, Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Book Award, 2010 for “All in a Day”, and  was awarded the Artist Trust and Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship Award in Visual Arts, 2000.

“I make images to record my life, my story. I carve out the small delicate moments of living that create a strong community. A day spent picking blueberries with my back to the sun, children crawling on the shadowed ground, neighbors’ voices drifting across the bushes, each of these forms the beginning of an image. I try to enhance my emotional and muscular memory with a greater memory based on thousands of generations picking berries, losing adventurous children, keeping community. I focus on a collective memory: hands working, tools made, stories shared, and solutions discovered through imagination.

Artists Statement

My work is political in a quiet way. The images are instinctual reminders to remember the interconnection and interdependence of nature. Through work of the hands and dreams of the mind, the whole community of plant and animal, soil, water and air can be strengthened.

I cut my stories into black paper using an X-Acto knife. The image is created through removal of paper. What is left is all connected, fragile yet strong, like the world I am depicting. If I make a mistake, I have to keep cutting, trying to find a solution. The chance of making a mistake is why I choose to draw with a knife in my hand.  Once there is a slip of the blade or an awkward line and the image is “messed up”, I am then free to try new techniques without fear of messing up more. I discover new paths as I meet each new challenge. The final papercut shows evidence of my hands working. Pencil lines faintly shimmer and the paper is lightly glued down to create subtle shadows. Neither a print, nor drawing, the paper becomes a delicate sculpture creating a story.”

I make images to record my life, my story. I carve out the small delicate moments of living that create a strong community. A day spent picking blueberries with my back to the sun, children crawling on the shadowed ground, neighbors’ voices drifting across the bushes, each of these forms the beginning of an image. I try to enhance my emotional and muscular memory with a greater memory based on thousands of generations picking berries, losing adventurous children, keeping community. I focus on a collective memory: hands working, tools made, stories shared, and solutions discovered through imagination.

My work is political in a quiet way. The images are instinctual reminders to remember the interconnection and interdependence of nature. Through work of the hands and dreams of the mind, the whole community of plant and animal, soil, water and air can be strengthened.
I cut my stories into black paper using an X-Acto knife. The image is created through removal of paper. What is left is all connected, fragile yet strong, like the world I am depicting. If I make a mistake, I have to keep cutting, trying to find a solution. The chance of making a mistake is why I choose to draw with a knife in my hand. Once there is a slip of the blade or an awkward line and the image is “messed up”, I am then free to try new techniques without fear of messing up more. I discover new paths as I meet each new challenge. The final papercut shows evidence of my hands working. Pencil lines faintly shimmer and the paper is lightly glued down to create subtle shadows. Neither a print, nor drawing, the paper becomes a delicate sculpture creating a story.