We had the good fortune of connecting with Nicole Havekost and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Nicole, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
There wasn’t anything that I loved more than art. Making stuff was when I felt most myself. I knew I was a skilled technician when I went to art school, but I didn’t know I was an artist until I made it through my freshman year. There were all these tools, materials and ideas I had never encountered. For every assignment, each student in my class had an original, individual take and I couldn’t believe the variety and talent. I realized I had an artistic voice, and I had amazing teachers who encouraged me to explore it. I found a home with my people in the arts.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve been at this for twenty-five years. There have been many periods in that time when making work has been beyond hard. I had to learn to get out of my own way. I had to say hello to the inner critic when she popped up and then just keep making. I had to accept that I would make shitty work. That was a hard lesson to learn, but when I finally gave in to failing, there was so much more freedom to move in my practice. It is a lesson I have to keep revisiting. I decided several years ago that I was going to get an exhibition in the Minnesota Artist Exhibition Program at the Minneapolis Institute of art. It was a juried opportunity for three exhibits, one awarded every four months. Nearly 70 artists applied at each deadline. I became one of them. With every rejection, I called the program administrator and asked for the panel’s feedback. With every rejection I had to get out of my way so I could hear the feedback and make improvements. I applied eight times and with each application my proposal got stronger. And then my proposal was accepted and I had to make the work. I never anticipated making monumental figurative sculpture, and I only had an idea of how I would pull it off. It was one of the most exciting and challenging times of my career. The work that I made for this exhibition “Chthonic” has completely changed who I am as an artist. I turned 50 while making this work and I don’t think it would have been possible to make this work as a young woman. I’m excited by the work I will make in another twenty-five years…work that I couldn’t make now.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In a week long trip we would flit around Rochester, where I live, and travel to Minneapolis/St. Paul “the cities” to play some more.
In Rochester, we would visit Threshold Arts, a lovely downtown space that has a street side store front with local artist members work for sale, and a gallery space with regional artists exhibitions. Also in the Downtown area is the Rochester Art Center, a 70 year old organization committed to showing contemporary art in a gorgeous space overlooking the river. We would visit Forager for lunch, a locally owned restaurant and brewery that has lovely outdoor dining. I would take visitors to Ox-bow park for silly otters, grumpy goats and gorgeous buffalo and then a hike deep into the woods.
In Minneapolis, we would visit the Walker Art Center for a dose of international contemporary art, and the Minneapolis Institute of Art for a stunning collection of historical artworks and the current Minnesota Artist Exhibition Program artist on view. Minneapolis also has two wonderful contemporary art spaces, Hair and Nails and Dreamsong galleries that both deserve a look. And for food in the cities, you could eat all day and still not make a dent in all the cuisine that is available. We would have to see what everyone was craving!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
There are several people who have had a huge impact on my creative career. The first is my 2-D Design professor, Lee Dejasu, from my freshman year at the Rhode Island school of Design. He taught me to make for myself; to follow and trust my voice. He has inspired my own teaching and continues to be a friend nearly thirty years later.
My husband, Brian Steele, a creative himself, finds a way to let me do what I do. If it means frozen quiche for dinner because I worked too late in the studio, or that I can’t contribute in the same way to our 401K, he recognizes the value and gift of creatively and helps me explore it. And my son who thinks it is hilarious to share the weird things I make with his friends.
Finally, I have a crew of artist friends/colleagues, Kjellgren Alkire, Chris Rackley, MaryBeth Magyar, who have become my family in this crazy business. We believe when one of us succeeds, we all succeed. They will read any proposal, load any truck and drive any distance with me to get my work seen. And I am fortunate that they will let me do the same for them.
Dan Denehy (Chthonic Install, Havekost 1, Lumber) Chris Rackley (Havekost-2, Nourish, Settle) Rebecca Heidenberg (Burrow)