Nicholas Winstead

Artist Statement

As a child who was very frightened of the world, I discovered that if I made art of the things that scared me I could put myself over my fears and not let them control me anymore. From an early age, I drew monsters and creatures that lead me to my interest in special makeup effects where I would create monster masks and creature costumes to transform myself into another character. However, I noticed that I fell into a rut of recreating masks of the monsters and characters that I liked but they did not illustrate who I was as a person and began to feel meaningless to me. In a search for putting purpose back in my artwork, I went back to my childhood roots and began making creatures that embodied my current fears and insecurities, literally bringing my internal monsters to life. This action is incredibly cathartic to me because in doing so I can release these toxic feelings or elements of myself that have been polluting me, there by and cleansing myself to be a higher functioning member of society.  I noticed that religion has been a big insecurity of mine ever since childhood. I was born in a community that pushed religion onto me at a young age, which lead me to step back and not have a personal connection with anything religious or spiritual. I tend to take my personal subjectivity and past experiences with organized religion and directly integrate them into the creatures.

In making my pieces, I create masks, sew garments, and construct sets for these creatures to develop their character and make them more believable and immersive personalities. In displaying my pieces in a gallery setting, I think the experience of an audience member literally stepping into someone else's world and being enveloped by it is very dynamic and captivating. However, I would make it clear that even though the audience is immersed in this other world, the performers would be detached from the viewer and would have no interaction with them. If the characters interacted with the audience, the viewers would be intruding on rather than simply peering into the character’s environment which would break the audience’s suspension of disbelief. However, I would still like to include some interactive element in my work so the viewer can be immersed further into this other being’s world and experience it through the senses of sound, smell, and even taste.