Mari Nicolson

About Mari

Mari has been an artist, educator, writer and musician for almost 30 years.  All of Mari's creative output is the culmination of a lifetime of travel, study and adventure.  In her early years as a private investigator, a young artist and musician, a travelling Carny, a roadie for concerts, and a variety of interesting jobs, she gravitated towards teaching art, and did that for almost 30 years.  

The ephemera Mari has collected over the years represent some of the most important moments in very diverse lives.  Immortalizing these bits of people's lives creates amazing and complex narratives in the works.   To preserve and transmute these into something ephemeral, is to preserve and respect the stories from which they originally belonged.  

Mari travels the world collecting bits and pieces of nature and history to use in her work.  She is most drawn towards the things most handled, treasured, and overlooked.  This includes stamps, tickets, certificates, apothecary labels, antique games, postcards and correspondence, money, stocks and bonds, and items that people have treasured, worn thin, and kept safe.  The ephemera is combined with Mari's love of nature and her travels to remote natural areas, where she finds washed up crayfish, birch bark, shells, flowers, and a wondrous assortment of natural materials.  The narrative takes on a life of its own, and each work tells a story, often with a strong connection between the past and present.  Any commission works draw on this collection, and it creates a wonderful dialogue.

Each painting has between 10 and 20 layers of paint, drawing, paper, 3-D materials, and more.  Most works take on a different look, and different meaning, depending on the light and angle in which they are viewed.   Some works are made of encaustic medium, which is melted beeswax and damar crystals.  Some works are mixed media, covered in resin, some painted or printed on metals, and some are multi layered mixed media acrylic with gel mediums.  No matter what the medium used, they are all archival, and made to last.

Most of Mari's themes through the years revolve around the idea that we are constantly juxtaposed in our lives with choices that are impossible to reconcile or understand.  Past and Present, East and West, Good and Evil, Male and Female, etc.  

Many works centre around the 1950's perceived North American freedom, and the influence of advertising and media to tame the emerging force of women who had blossomed into their roles as society's workforce during the war, and their subsequent dismissal and repression to maintain the balance of a patriarchal society. 


A journey along the coast, and many stops in between.  

Using Format