100 Colorado Creatives: Nikki Pike

Nikki Pike, "Aim," serigraph on newsprint, 2013, one of a series of seven portraits.
Nikki Pike, "Aim," serigraph on newsprint, 2013, one of a series of seven portraits.

#9: Nikki Pike

Nikki Pike is a poster girl for the new artist: She doesn't do just one thing, she does it all -- from performance to sculpture to installation to multimedia and cross-disciplinary works to art as activism. The former instructor at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design and current RedLine resident also champions the idea of community-driven art, with the goal of creating sustainable solutions through artful collaboration, as evidenced by her participation in projects like the bARTer Collective and Boulder's Flood Project. And Pike's bubbling over with even more ideas, as you'll learn from her 100CC questionnaire.

See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Lynne Bruning

The bARTer Collective, one of Nikki Pike's many artistic outlets.
The bARTer Collective, one of Nikki Pike's many artistic outlets.

If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

My instinct is to form a collective: Mother Theresa, Augusto Boal, Joseph Beuys, Agnes Denes, Michael Rakowitz, Andrea Zittel, David Sedaris, Che Guevara, Marina Abramovic, Wangari Maathai, Kalle Lasn, Imogen Heap, Alfredo Jaar, Ana Mendito, Björk.

A group like this could use art as a vehicle to cause serious change!

Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

Can we resurrect this person? Lately, I've been thinking about Emma Goldman. Her ideas, activism and humanitarianism could be extremely useful today. Plus, she has guts!

What's one art trend you want to see die this year?

Well, it takes a minute for ideas to hit a landlocked place like Denver, but I love our close-knit, collaborative community. I would love to see more Social Art, Service Art and Relief Art. What if post-modern art kicked through Denver's doors and took over? What can art do? And when I ask the question, I mean really, how can art contribute and cause change? I would like to see more projects causing change and building our community. What if artists led a charge where we all committed to volunteering two hours a week? I know, I know, we volunteer plenty already. What if this charge led to every citizen volunteering at least two hours a week? (Our children included, let's start early.) I think we would see a big change in our community.

I am concerned about the changing landscape of education. I worry about accessibility, cost and quality. I wish the trending approach could leave out the corporate model and pay attention to, say, Germany's approach? I have heard there are some exciting models popping up in Denver -- look for Moxie U.

Continue reading for more from Nikki Pike.  

NIkki Pike, "Love Letters," 2013.
NIkki Pike, "Love Letters," 2013.

What's your day job?

Day job? I recently resigned from my professorship at the Rocky Mountain College of Art and Design. I'm on the market for a job.

Of my various wage-winning involvements, I am most excited to be teaching a group at the Emily Griffith Technical College (Metal Working for Artists).

A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?

Unlimited funds? Are there strings attached? Well, I would have to purchase Haliburton & Exxon, Lockheed Martin, Monsanto and all the major car companies. If we could funnel our global brains and hearts toward efforts in a more aggressive approach to be innovative, preventative, humanitarian and environmental, I see how our world could not only be prepared for our future, but it could also improve our global community and citizenship today. So, let's build more solar panels and wind fields, let's replant our farms in the soil (and let's build soil!) and cook dinner together, and let's start practicing peace? Just for fun, let's have an artist as director in the upheaval of each. I cannot imagine how socialism might work across our vast country and population, but that or something of a real democracy raises the hairs on my arms. I invented a system where capitalism exits in tandem with socialism, but the president has not yet returned my phone call!

I have daydreams of what it might be like to take patron support from someone like Woody Harrelson, Angelina Jolie or other wealthy person with like-minded values to hire me for what I do -- make art. I fantasize about being in my studio, out in the community -- day in and day out -- making. Perhaps it could be a system where patrons could have a tax deduction to directly support artists -- salary and benefits. This is not a strings-attached sort of deal, make what you make -- perhaps a patron would make studio visits, give feedback, maybe even direction toward one project or another...what if I could be just an art maker!? Of course, I would need all of their patron friends to support all of our local artists.

Continue reading for more from Nikki Pike.  

Nikki Pike, "Moon Gate," 2010.
Nikki Pike, "Moon Gate," 2010.

What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?

I would love Colorado (the public at large) to understand what an artist is and how artists work. If people understood the value of the thinkers and makers and how important their role in society is, perhaps more purchasing, funding and sponsoring would come into existence. I see artists as cultural agents. Our culture would be rich! Is it crazy to think that a career industry could open up where there was the position "artist"? What if the state or fed paid salaries and benefits for artists to make? What if we revered culture so much, we invested in it on the front end? Maybe back to the patron/artist system. Some systems pay mothers -- and what is more important than raising our young citizens (male parents included, of course)?

Colorado (and the U.S. -- let's make it a national concern) could start simply: When asked what do you do, and a person reveals she is an artist, let's shift that answer from: That's FUN!

The truth is artists painstakingly brainstorm to address the most controversial issues in our society and even try to bring solutions to such issues. Behind the scenes, art making is real work. The real work is not just the labor, but in the ability of an artist's mind, the critical negotiation of an idea, bringing it to fruition, and the courage to put forth an artwork. This is not to be overlooked.

Art is not just entertainment. It is culture. Because artists are driven and passionate, I worry this is mistaken for fun rather than work. This concern comes largely from my experience as an educator. I watch my students defend their titles as artists even before they are truly confident in their choice. They are regularly invited to volunteer their skills or artwork as an "opportunity." It is maddening to witness as they struggle to explain to their families and communities why their life as an artist is equally valuable to that of an engineer or doctor.

What if the public at large regarded the work of artists as they do their own professions?

Continue reading for more from Nikki Pike.  

Nikki Pike, "Sound Totem," solar-powered music chamber, 2010.
Nikki Pike, "Sound Totem," solar-powered music chamber, 2010.

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

Favorites? We all know choosing favorites is dangerous. I prefer to be pluralistic.

I would like to give recognition to RedLine and its support to artists and the community (Louise Martarano, Robin Gallite, PJ D'Amico, Laura Merage).

TANK Studios started by RedLine alumni is pretty exciting -- happy to see Denver loosening its tie, so to speak, and forming its own artist communities.

Have you heard what's happening in Loveland? Megan Tracy and her counterparts won a major grant to house ArtSpace and the revival of the Loveland Feed & Grain is a great win. Very exciting.

There's Oh Heck Yeah, Brian Corrigan.

Curator Petra Sertic has some incredible and innovative ideas coming to fruition in Denver, and together she and Alvin Gregorio curated LaunchPad -- an incredible and groundbreaking arts event. The third annual will be this summer.

And maybe you don't know yet, but there's an artist/activist project on the horizon: the Peoples Pie Project. That's gonna be a winner!

What's on your agenda in the coming year?

The coming year holds much to be revealed. I will be completing my residency as a RedLine Artist this fall -- what a great stint it's been.

The bARTer collective is continuing on with the Flood Project, commissioned by Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and the City of Boulder and with the support of Colorado Creative Industries. On February 24, the museum, together with the bARTer collective, is hosting a fundraiser to aid flood victims. We are working up to our commemorative event and creation of our commemorative catalog in the fall. The current collection is being hosted at the Firehouse Art Center in Longmont in an exhibition titled The Power of Water.

I accepted an invitation to be in residency as a performer in late March. The enticing event organized and hosted by Montgomery Knott is brought to Denver from Brooklyn, Monkey Town 4. It's a cube, a four-screen view featuring films of various artists. The ticketed event is hosted with a several-course menu from the Populist, Watercourse and Noble Wine.

In August, I have an upcoming residency in August with Sanjit Sethi at the Santa Fe Art Institute, a home where activism meets art.

Lastly, I am very excited and gracious to be a part of a Service Art project in Joes, Colorado, led by Maureen Hearty. This small farming town east of Denver is on the decline. Maureen has taken it upon herself to bring community building through the arts to unite the people of Joes. Together, we will work to build a sustainable structure out of natural cement -- much like Moon Gate in the permanent collection at RMCAD. If anyone is interested to learn the sustainable building technique cob (natural cement), join us!

Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2014?

Did I mention the Peoples Pie Project?

Can we get Land Lines on Jimmy Fallon?

What about Joey Porter's Vital Organ?

We Drink it Black -- also notable.

Also, at the Emily Griffith Technical College, Amy Downing is single-handedly growing an amazing continuing-education program in the arts.

Learn more about Nikki Pike online.

Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.

To keep up with the Froyd's eye view of arts and culture in Denver, "like" my fan page on Facebook.

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