Student Spotlight: Nicholas Samuel Heskes

Bookmark and Share
The Student Spotlight series aims to highlight the work of current MFA students, asking them to share thoughts on their practice by answering curated and peer-submitted questions. Nicholas Samuel Heskes is a student in the Visual Arts Program.

What themes or subjects are you currently addressing in your work?

Lately I’ve been struggling with representations of death; specifically, anxiety about the presentness of death. The trope of momento mori in painting has a long history, but it’s symbolism is canonical and narrow. I’ve been attempting to draw attention to a reminder of death, but through obfuscating the symbolism of that tradition. The more I investigate this topic however...the more I find it both full and lacking...

What materials do you work with?

I work primarily in oil on canvas or wood, or ink/pencil on paper. For now, I still find ways to experiment and discover within the picture plane.

What is challenging your practice right now?

The relative outdatedness of my subject matter has become a problem to consider. This is not to say that the themes I want to address are outdated, but the concern with being always contemporary seems to me both a ridiculous, impossible challenge, and a necessary condition of being a living artist. The question “how do you make artwork that looks contemporary?” is a terrible road block of a question, but one that does not disappear without applying force or tact... Ideally, I would like it to look neither outdated nor contemporary.

What artist or work of art do you find yourself returning to and why?

I find myself cycling through a variety of artists and artworks that I’m interested in, never settling on any one for too long. It’s less that I consciously return to an artist or work, but more that certain artists and works take up a kind of permanent residence in me. Their methods and forms can always be recalled, and I find them rushing to appear every time I begin work on anything.

Your peers ask: What is your favorite cereal?

I don’t eat cereal.

© 2017 Columbia University School of the Arts | 305 Dodge Hall, Mail Code 1808 | 2960 Broadway | New York, NY 10027 | (212) 854-2875 | EMAIL
Columbia University School of the Arts offers MFA degrees in Film, Theatre, Visual Arts, and Writing, an MA degree in Film Studies, a joint JD/MFA degree in Theatre Management & Producing, a PhD degree in Theatre History, Literature, and Theory, and an interdisciplinary program in Sound Arts.