Nicolette Spear is an artist and body painter who lives in the LA area. Body Fine Art spoke with her about the upcoming competition, her love for the art form and what inspired her to start BFA.
WHAT’S UNIQUE ABOUT THE BODY FINE ART COMPETITION?
The Body Fine Art Bodypainting Competition is about more than just body painting. It’s all about collaboration. There are lots of different kinds of artists performing on Saturday, including photographers, DJs and the live artists who are our models.
We’re doing something new in the active way we are spotlighting collaboration and actively engaging collaboration. The photographers working in tandem with the painters is something that’s never been done. Some body painting shows do have performing models, but we want to highlight that collaboration of performance art and body art. Also, many body painters feel that there’s an energy reading that happens between the model and the body painter. Every model brings their own energy to each painting and that is in and of itself a collaboration.
One of the beautiful things about body painting is that it’s like a sand mandala. You spend all these hours painting and then it just gets washed down the drain. It’s temporary. The art exists for only a moment and then it’s gone. And so, photography and videography become a big part of of the collaboration. The capturing of the moment with the model. The sweet spot happens when everyone’s feeling it, the photographer’s in the moment and all of these elements meet in the middle.
The goal of the event is to promote freedom of expression and to get people excited about creating, themselves. We want to inspire others to be collaborative and expressive as well. The freedom of expression is contagious.
WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START THE BFA COMPETITION?
I saw a need for something. As a body painter, I looked for events in Southern California and couldn’t find anything. I wanted to provide an arena for the art form in my area.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED IN BODY PAINTING?
Tribal and indigenous cultures have been doing body painting for a long time. There are cave paintings which document body painting as far back as 100,000 years. Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher are two National Geographic photographers who’ve written a lot about the history of African body painting.
As a painter and art history major, I was already really interested in the human figure. The idea that you can actually paint on the human figure was new to me, but after the research I realized that body painting is an ancient art form. Once I realized that body painting existed it was an “ah ha” moment for me and I think it’s a similar moment for most body painters. I can paint on the form instead of painting the form.
I love the Beckwith/Fisher book, “Painted Bodies”. What excites me most about their work is the African attitude towards the body. I would love for the western culture to adopt the comfort with the body other cultures have. Whatever part of the body the artist is painting becomes an extension of the artistic expression and there’s no awkwardness around the nakedness.
There’s something healing about finding beauty in one’s body. I think a lot of body painting models experience this freedom of judgement of their body. Being painted helps them to feel love towards their body.
The skin is the boundary that separates the self from the external world. It is the interface between the inner and the outer, the intimate and the infinite… The human form, through the brilliance of inspired artistry becomes a sacred geography of the soul, a map of culture and myth expressed by forms painted, carved, incised, or etched upon the canvas of the body. — Wade Davis (From the introduction to the book “Painted Bodies” by Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher)
WHAT ARE SOME CURRENT THEMES IN YOUR OWN WORK?
Each work is dependent on the model and where I am at that time in my life. I love to illustrate anatomy. When I have a particular vision in mind, I’m very picky about choosing my model because of the collaboration. There’s also a spiritual element to my work that I think is about transformation. I like to have a connection with my model so that I can know what kind of transformation they are having. I couldn’t create the vision without the canvas being a living breathing entity with it’s own wants. Personal transformation is a big theme. My own, and the transformation of the model and what their wants are. And there can be conflicting wants as the body has to eat and breath and go to the bathroom. There become complications, which are part of the process and lead to their own discoveries.
WHAT ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
Body painting is having an artistic revival. The revival has occurred first in Europe with the World Body Painting Festival which has over 40k in attendance. It’s become very popular in Europe which makes me think of Picasso with his fascination with African art. Only now is body painting really making its way here in the US. It’s awesome to be at the forefront of the movement here in the US and it’s really exciting to help the art form come to the forefront of the culture. There’s so many different places for the art form to go. We’re seeing it get absorbed into the culture more and more and I’m excited to see where this goes. There’s lots of different ways for it to be expressed in the culture.
You can find out more about Nicolette and see more of her work at her website – NicoletteSpear.com