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Artist Donny Nie

Donny Nie (b. 1997) is a Chinese-Canadian painter and interdisciplinary artist. She received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a BFA from OCAD University. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Studio Art Department at University of North Texas. Nie has participated in solo and group exhibitions in Canada, the United States, and China.

"Painting is the matrix within my practice, a device to process time in various rhythms: stretch one mark into an animation, or condense one memory to an impression. My research ponders painting as a virtual identity, a persona with encoded privacy and portals of disclosure. The abstraction incorporates subtle figurative scaling in brushstrokes (fingertip, tongue, pupil, etc.) to draw attention onto a sensual experience. The larger pieces obsessively collect enormous colors and tissues to map out the exhaustion and exuberance in performing. The paintings retain their previous life through accumulated paint skins from my palettes. As these organic archives build up physically, they deteriorate from my memory gradually. The mark making processes merged liminal spaces, responds to my migration across landscapes and environments. The intuitive compositions shimmer in a continuous disposition to seek equilibrium. The small-scale sculptures capture singular gestures, contextualize a brushstroke by projecting it into a three-dimensional capacity. They are aspiring objects suspended between a paradoxical state: an ephemerality that crystallizes to pursue permanence. From large-scale oil painting, monotype, digital projection, to small-scale ceramic and glass forms, my interdisciplinary abstractions coalesce into a gestalt, magical experience. Via transformation in both optical and chemical states, the alchemy of my artwork exemplifies a state of proximity to commemorate potentials in living. I am driven by an obsession with transparency as a metaphor, to pick up and dissolve invisible boundaries. The artworks materialize a desire to archive, control, and situate within progression."

Tell us a little about yourself (where you are from) and your background in the arts.

I was born in Foshan, China, and moved to Canada when I was a teenager. I have done a lot of painting and drawing since I was a child, and decided to pursue a career in the arts after being encouraged by my high school teacher, Mr. Panico.

My experiences of migration and diaspora led me to appreciate the diverse expressive potentials in the arts: the poetry, privacy, and universality amongst the visual languages. I completed my BFA in Painting and Drawing at OCAD University in Toronto, and my MFA in Fiber and Material Studies at SAIC in Chicago. In SAIC's interdisciplinary grad school program. I furthered my visual languages to generate a more immersive interdisciplinary experience. I attempted to reach a more universal audience, artists and non-artists.

Since graduating in 2022, I have been teaching painting/drawing and printmaking as a visiting assistant professor in Denton, TX. In this new location and role, my work continued to be informed and shaped by different landscapes, practices, and perspectives.

What kind of work are you currently making?

My recent paintings comprise a full palette, including many colors I perceive across the landscapes of Denton. The abstract painted surfaces are constructed like a vibrant patchwork, consisting fleeting moments that are subtly reminiscent of the architectures (such as a pink historic book store in the downtown Denton Square, a buttermilk-shade across the field of university buildings.)

Transitions in my roles and shifts in routines, influenced me to create a more organized archive, searching for exchanges and frameworks within the expansive images/sights. I am specifically interested in the metaphors of digestion (and consumption), as an introspective, physical, intuitive, and interactive procedure.

My abstraction encrypts images through a foreign, almost otherworldly lense, addressing a concurrent alienation and novelty. I am leaving Denton soon (as my visiting appointment is ending) but the paintings will preserve the myriad objects.

What is a day like in the studio for you?

I teach in the morning and afternoon, so I usually paint at night in my home studio. I lay many paintings out simultaneously, and work on them interchangeably. My painting process is overall slow with small brushes, and a lot of looking and meditation in-between brushstrokes.

The timeline for one painting can be stretched very long - I would revisit/revise a painting after several weeks, months, or years.

What are you looking at right now and/or reading?

I am looking at slime and inflatable things. I am thinking about them in relation to my glass work.

Where can we find more of your work? (ex. website/insta/gallery/upcoming shows)

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