Contemporary Fine Artist // Nouel Riel – Interview and First SOLO show
Nouel Reil’s multilayer, mixed media pieces in her first solo show , A New Mythos, are layered not only in texture and color but in content and meaning. Stemming from the uprooting that comes along with taking perspective of one’s own life and how we have become who we are, she takes on personas that have evolved over time into 6 parts. Each deity then has created different pieces with a different attitude while still remaining streamline. Reconciliation between who she is, who she was, and what has previously been a guilt ridden existence into one of self acceptance, love, and empathy is the outcome. Along with imagery that makes you feel the primordial ancestry of where you and I have all come from.
Nouel took some time to discuss her show and her point of view with The Work Magazine.
What is the name of your show and where does it stem from?
N: Its called a new Mythos. I am going through my saturn return which is a huge time of change. I am interested in the uprooting in my life. How we learn things in life and then questioning it all. How I feel about these things, whether it is nature or nurture. We all have our own stories, our own mythologies. And we continue to tell ourselves these stories. They then bleed into every aspect of our life. And also for me, I don’t see a separation between god and man but I feel that various religious over the centuries have created a division between god, the universe, etc. And then themselves. I don’t see a separation. I see everything as aspects of god. With those two things coming together, I felt different characters come through, weather as different people who have interested me or influenced me, now coming through me or parts of myself that have died exiting out of me. Those are formed into 6 different characters, whom have become an extension of this show, and have taken on a life of it’s own with photos and video recordings. My roommate Justin Tyler Close has photographed me playing out these 6 different characters. Those characters have become the totems for this show. I felt that it was important to honor these aspects of myself. And then pray to them, because there is no difference between me and you and flower and god and you know, whatever. To me, it felt like the most obvious way to comment on that as something that one prays to.
Sometimes we can feel guilt over the sides of ourselves that we are scared to show but are a huge part of who we are. You’ve taken this and instead of hiding it, you seem to be celebrating it as a means to reconcile it.
N:Yeah, I felt much shame and guilt for a lot of different things. I felt a lot of that for no reason, just for existing and then questioning why I feel bad for even just breathing. I think a lot of that healing comes from going deep and fining out where the root of it lies. And then start sending love and compassion to that to then empathize with myself, which then leads me to empathize with anyone. So that was what was happening in this body of work. To me I see these aspects. There is a through line between each peace but there are moments where you can truly see the different characters creating the various pieces.
How did you go about discovering the 6 personas?
N: When I meet someone I can go all the way into them and know them. So that is kind of what I did with these characters. It started with the wigs from the sculpture piece. I put them on and automatically had a sense of who this person is. They then built from there, with costume and other ingredients. That is how I figured out the visual characters and then from the photos we took I created the totems off of those in the most minimal way possible.
When you begin your painting do you have an idea of where you will begin?
N: For the most part it is automatic making, so I will feel something and then I react to it and immediately channel it through. If it’s a word that come to mind, I will write it on the canvas and then allow the color to come through to what I feel resonates with that word and then I follow it through. Sometimes I have a vision of shape and form of what I would like to see and then I follow that and it always looks completely different. Sometimes it’s a specific image I move toward and then allow myself to be rid of it.
How do you know when you are done with a painting?
N: It tells me. Sometimes I don’t want to listen, and then it becomes something else. I have never abandoned a painting. Sometimes it takes a year, I may put it away and then take it out when it’s the right time.
How does it feel having your first show?
N: It feels like a really helpful learning lesson. It feels great to have an end point to culminate a body of work which is just an idea or an experience. And say , even if I show all these pieces somewhere else, it will be different, because every time I am painting the future of what will happen. Having my first show has shown me that everything needs each other at every point in time. It feels really great to trust myself and the exercise it takes to stand by ones self regardless of what is going on. The love I have received has been so amazing and is so beautiful to know that I can feel that and accept that because I have chosen not to abandon myself in the process of creating a painting while loving myself through the discomfort. Had I been at any other point in time, I wouldn’t have been able to do this because I wouldn’t have been able to trust myself and love myself through it. Which is of course our eternal journey, but this has been one of the most love filled situations beyond anything I have ever done or experienced. I never thought anyone would want to see what I do or care to want to see it none the less gain something from it.