It is a perfect cool Spring morning in magical Easter/Pesaj weekend. We are all sitting, picnic style with blankets, under a big majestic Ceoaba tree. It is the end of the tour and Nicole suggests that we visually choose a leaf from the tree and start trailing it, slowly, from the leaf to the stem to the branch to the next larger branch. We are following the forms of the tree, its structure, all the way to the core, then its roots imagined deep underneath the ground. We also got to pick a special object on our trail to make an offering to the water at the pond. I found a white dried snail’s shell, others found fruits, flowers, branches and even a barley twig.
We are at a trail right across from the Fairchild Gardens, in South Miami. The tour which is part of Weird Miami BFI tours (Bas Fisher International), is led by artists Nicole Salcedo and Monica Uscerowski.
We got to be silent, open our ears and eyes, learn some geography -- the coral stone and limestone that has lied for some thousands of years underneath our living grounds; breath in and out, all while experiencing a meditative walking session. Nicole and Monica explain that this type of experience is called Forest Therapy in Japan. “Forest Therapy, is a research-based practice supporting the healing of individuals through the immersion in forests. The name taken from the Japanese art of Shin-rin-yoku which translates to Forest Bathing.” 1
Nicole Salcedo’s work stems and is an integral part of her love and knowledge about plants. Most impressive is the way she can draw from and connect with nature. These elements are seen when she creates her own forestry like human creatures in the middle of her jungle drawings. Giving us the sense that we are part of the environment and that we are only animals in disguise, trying to hide from our natural essence as common beings.
Let’s ask Nicole what she is working on these days?
The nature walk and book with Weird Miami that you attended! I’m also working on pieces for some upcoming shows this year.
Tell us more about your practice?
I meditate in silence as much as I can, I read a lot, spend a lot of time in solitude and go out in nature as much as I can.
I have recently wanted to incorporate meditation with others into my practice, through guided meditations (preferably out in nature). I spend a lot of time reading and thinking about God/Love (the all-encompassing energy that is a part of everything and everyone). I think about how I can evolve myself and my work to become a channel for this energy. I feel like I have been doing this all of my life (whether I was aware of it or not).
Do you perform a ritual before you work?
I like to organize my studio and get my materials ready before I work.
What is your main medium, your techniques and what is your process to make an artwork?
I like to work mainly in graphite or oil stick (on paper). I do have an interest in using natural materials that I have foraged (like plants, natural dyes, burn wood), but I still have more experiments to do with that stuff.
When I create a drawing, I spend a lot of time waiting for an image to form in my mind. Sometimes it comes in very quick flashes and grows into something more solid as I continue to read and search for things and images that feel connected to what I was shown.
I like to use patterns and meditative mark making in my work.
Do you have in mind the spectator, if so, is there something you want to make them feel or think? Or what do you hope to achieve through your work?
My hope is that people feel a sense of connection to divine energy when they view my work, or at the very least taste of peace.
How often are your walks in nature?
You attended the first official one!
How much is your artwork related to your life, your interests, values and concerns?
It is completely related to my life, the way I feel, how I am interpreting my reality. My work evolves as my spirit and mind keep growing.
Do you feel a line of connection between your pieces, for example between your first ones and the ones you are working on now?
I have always had an interest in the spiritual/ethereal parts of life ever since I was a child. That subject has seemed to always be a constant in my work, whether it is obvious or not.
Name some of your favorite artists.
Ana Mendieta, Hieronymous Bosch, Manuel Mendive
Interview by Barbara Bollini Roca