Nicole Salimbene (b. Trinidad, CO) is a Washington, D.C. based artist working at the intersection of poetics, psychology, environmentalism and contemplative practice. Personal influences originate from her upbringing—born into a Catholic, Italian-American household in Trinidad, Colorado, and raised in a working-class family in Niagara Falls, NY during the time of the Love Canal crisis (an environmental disaster resulting in the first US EPA Superfund). Environmental, spiritual, and political issues from her background circulate in the conceptual and material choices within her work.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Northern Colorado. She has worked in the social service fields in mental health facilities and as a domestic violence crisis counselor. Before embarking on a full-time art practice, she spent many years as an arts administrator in the performing arts, working with the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center.
In 2007, she began exhibiting her art, with her first group exhibitions taking place in Nogent sur Oise and Montataire, France. She has continued to exhibit her work in various venues, including the New Orleans Photo Alliance, (e) merge Art Fair (D.C.), Arlington Arts Center (VA), Brooklyn Waterfront Artist Coalition (NY), New Image Gallery at James Madison University, and Studio Channel Gallery (CA). Her 2016 solo exhibition at Flashpoint Gallery (D.C.) received recognition from The Art Newspaper (London), Washington Post, Al Tashkeel (Dubai), The Smithsonian Art Museum Blog: Eye Level, and Sculpture Magazine.
In addition, her work has been reproduced for publications and purchased for private and public collections. She received Second Place for the 2018 Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Art Awards. She has twice been a recipient for an Individual Artists and Scholars Grant from the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County as well as receiving the Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in Visual Arts in 2017 and 2021. In 2012, the Washington Sculptors Group awarded her the Tom Rooney Prize.
Along with a studio practice, she has led Opening to Your Creativity: Art as A Contemplative Practice workshops in affiliation with American University, Clark University, Lama Foundation, The Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Wesley Theological Seminary, Ghost Ranch and World Wildlife Fund.
In my Artforum Tapestry Series, I repurpose the pages of Artforum magazine to reflect on the relationship between consumerism, gender and the contemporary art market. The pages, rolled and bound with wire, simultaneously hide and reveal content, signifying the tension of inclusion and exclusion within the market. Threaded together, pages containing art criticism and glossy advertisements are reimagined from historically situated texts into a perceptual field of color and composition. In this transformative process, I adapt the power dynamics of the traditionally male-dominated art market into the traditionally feminine craft of tapestries.
I began this body of work in 2019. Personally, it has evolved to hold multiple paradoxes related to the art market and my art practice. The magazines which started with my own collection soon after included the collections of fellow D.C. area artists, taking on a useful repurposing and space making from those long-held collections. It also provided decades of perspective on the art market as I deconstructed the magazines. This proved to be both mind-blowingly irritating, as I observed patterns of the artists who have been repeatedly forwarded, but also wildly therapeutic in the ripping, cutting and sorting of those pages. The process reminded me of the Louise Bourgeois statement, “I do, I undo, I redo.” This way of working has been with me in earlier works, but somehow all the more poignant to me in this series.The assembling and weaving of these tapestries is where I am perhaps most grounded in the way that I practice, since it bridges the conceptual and meditative components of the making together in the overall form. Working between bits of images and text revealed and hidden in the rolls and the repetition in the construction, I feel a full sense of embodiment in the process, which is slow and unfolding. This speaks to my personal rhythm and a quality I hope is also communicated in the final work.