Studio Visit: Nick Parker

Words: Sean Santiago
Images: Paul Barbera of Where They Create

May 15 2016

In celebration with for this year’s Sight Unseen Offsite, we’re partnering with Sight Unseen to bring you a behind the scenes look at some of the work of some of this year’s exhibitors. 

Nick Parker is not a hoarder. Nick Parker keeps everything. If these two statements seem inherently at odds, that’s all right. The Brooklyn-based artist has a way with contradictions, a knack for making ideas coalesce when, taken at face value, they shouldn’t.

Parker’s work exists in the space between interpretation and intention, straddling the line between its own finished object-hood and its narrative as a work in progress — or, in the artist’s own parlance, its moment of utility versus its actualization as an art object.

“I like to keep things around,” says Parker, whose live-work space presents its own set of unique challenges to the creative process. “There are more limitations this way, which is kind of good.”

A graduate of The Cooper Union School of Art, Parker has been working steadily since 2009 to refine a materials-driven, process-based approach to making. His vases are composed of cement that he pigments, layers, and sands until it starts to resemble some hyperactive version of linoleum. His grander ideas typically end up as “paintings,” made from paint and paint-like materials embedded with scraps and layered on top of a substrate, then sanded down. Forty of those were on display at his last solo show, Amerigo Ferrari: The Golden Body [of America]’s Last Meal’s Lobster Bisque, for which he had some 150 to choose from, all stored at home. “They really stack up,” he says.

That home, for the time being, is an East Williamsburg apartment that reflects the constant churning of ideas that defines Parker’s practice, in which he seeks out value in that which is discarded, done, or spent. He utilizes scraps from his day job as a woodworker as well as offcuts and donations from neighboring artists and makers. It could seem a bit relentless if Parker weren’t so methodical in his execution, so fluidly dedicated to his craft that it hardly seems like work at all, just the constant iterating and reiterating of a nagging suspicion that maybe there’s more to the material world than meets the eye.

You can read this Studio Visit as it originally appeared on Sight Unseen. Don’t forget to visit the Sight Unseen Offsite before it wraps up on Monday the 16th. 

Images courtesy of Paul Barbera of Where They Create.