We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicole Kutz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicole, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
Pursuing a creative career is often more aligned with risk because it involves choosing passion over comfort. For me that has manifested in various ways throughout my life – from getting my MFA, to moving across the country, building a startup company, planning a residency in Iceland or even just putting myself out there. When I am making art, I find that stepping out of my creative comfort zone has always led to more authentic and stronger work. Before I leave my studio, I try to do one thing that scares me or disrupts the precious thing I have spent the day toiling over. This change can feel reckless, but almost always pushes the work in a better direction in the long-run.
I think adding this into my studio practice shifted not only my art, but also my perspective on risk-taking. On paper, I was probably living a “riskier” lifestyle a few years ago, yet this year was the riskiest professionally. I started 2020 with three career paths in the arts: one as an artist, one as a curatorial assistant and one as the chief curator for a startup. Balancing these three paths eventually burned me out and I found myself losing sight of my identity as an artist.
This past year had more plot twists than I ever anticipated, but the periods of quarantine and lockdown allowed me to look inward and assess my life. In the height of the pandemic, I decided to leave my job in pursuit of what I wanted most – to devote my time to making art and sharing that with others. So far, this has required a lot of sacrifice, managing self-doubt and conflicting emotions, but it also feels like a giant leap towards what I want to achieve as an artist. Taking that leap into the unknown has been terrifying, but ultimately I know it was an absolutely necessary risk to take me on the path towards my unique purpose. I feel more open to my creative process and more in tune with my work than I have felt in years.
“This life is mine alone. So I have stopped asking people for directions to places they’ve never been.” – Glennon Doyle
I now see the importance of taking calculated risks to achieve goals that I may have thought were unattainable. My definition has also varied dramatically based on circumstance (some days just getting out of bed feels like a massive risk) and my perspective continues to evolve as I evolve. I am starting to see a difference between positive and negative risks and am learning to trust my inner guidance to steer me in a positive direction even if it scares me. I think the trick is instead of diving into uncertainty with the focus on the possible negative outcomes, you can change your life for the better if you shift your perspective towards the potential positives. While it may be easier to focus on the immediate negative consequences, I think we often lose sight of the bigger picture of the negative consequences that accumulate over time from NOT taking that initial risk. I definitely don’t have a clear plan or path, but I can only hope that sharing my truths and experiences can help others forge their own paths too.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I’m an abstract painter and have been living/working in LA for the past three years. My partner and I are currently on the East Coast rounding out 2020 with family and it has been interesting to see life and the craziest year ever come full circle 🙂 I think my earlier answer on risk covers this best, but pursuing a career in the arts has not always been easy. My work typically meditates on life’s transience by using handmade pigments and dyes to create ethereal abstract worlds. I frequently draw inspiration from Wabi-sabi, as well as the Japanese artforms of shibori and kintsugi, and ultimately find beauty in the work’s imperfections. My new pieces are a reaction to California’s wildfires and reflect on female vulnerability and exacerbated anxiety from climate change. I am currently most excited about “Sense of Place”, a show I co-curated at Wönzimer gallery in DTLA. The exhibition addresses how we are redefining our relationship with the natural world in an increasingly virtual and isolated society. The participating artists use their artistic process as a way to contemplate the past, the present, and ultimately look towards the future with a new perspective and sense of place. I’m proud of the work my co-curator, Vita Eruhimovitz, and I put into the exhibition, despite the new stay-at-home restrictions for the city and changes throughout the year.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In all honesty, I have spent the past three years living in LA and so much of Atlanta has changed (all of my favorite spots have closed! R.I.P Sound Table). I’m still trying to find these places during my couple of months visiting here again during the pandemic, but I will say that Perrine’s Wine Shop has been my go-to spot for natural wine in the city. It is unreal. If someone came to visit, we would probably hang out at the Goat Farm, go for a trail run and talk about how much we miss live music…
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I want to dedicate my shoutout to my partner A.J. Novak for allowing me to see my truth; my friends and family for catching me as I stumble; Nikita Gill for writing poetry that stirs my soul; and Nine Inch Nails, Coheed & Cambria and Run the Jewels, for making music that propelled me through this crazy year.