Shasta Nash is a young artist and a busy one at that. Her most recent exhibition at the Flipside Cafe opens on First Thursday and continues through the end of the month.
Nash received her BFA from Boise State in 1999, but she's been an artist since the age of 12. Her grandmother painted icons for the Catholic Church and did watercolors and jewelry design to support herself, later switching to egg tempera.
"She taught me how to draw," says Nash of her grandmother and cites that influence as one of the greatest in shaping the artist Nash would become. Together, grandmother and granddaughter would draw what they saw in nature on family outings. Eventually, Nash learned not just drawing, but also painting and even gold-leafing from her grandmother. By the time she went to college, Nash knew what her major would be. "I love nothing more than art," Nash says simply of her decision to major in art.
Nash received her degree with an emphasis in photography and painting; her senior show at Boise State consisted of close-up photography of hand-drawn tattoos that she subsequently collaged together into kaleidoscopes and then painted with oils. Photography, says Nash, helps with painting--"If you take your own photos, you have something to work from"--and Nash's subsequent paintings are often based on her own photographs.
Besides her senior show, Nash's solo exhibitions include Celebrating Diversity at Boise State's Liberal Arts Building in 1998, and an untitled exhibition at the Jefferson House Frame Gallery in 2000. She has participated in group exhibitions like 55 Inches Off Center in 1999 at Boise State's Hemingway Gallery, as well as a home casting show entitled Shelled--wherein women cast their bodies in plaster. Several of the casts from Shelled were exhibited in the Boise State Women's Center's show, The Body Image Project, at Boise State's Student Union Gallery, also in 2004. Nash also won a place in Basement Gallery's 1999 juried show, All Idaho Collegiate Exhibition.
When asked about artists influencing her own art, Nash cites disparate sources. She spent three months in Europe after graduating from Boise State and soaked up the art she saw while there. Nash cites the tradition of art nouveau, and in particular the work of Alphonse Mucha and his treatment of forms. "It's very much like stained glass," she says of his style of outlining. She admires Mucha's saturated colors, which she uses in her own works. She also cites Gustav Klimt as an influence because of his use of gold and abstract elements. But, she says, "My first love was Van Gogh, even though I paint nothing like him."
The Flipside Cafe exhibition came about naturally. Patty Payton, who coordinates the art at the restaurant, was looking for potential artists to hang at the Flipside. Nash and Payton were college friends and so Payton approached Nash. Originally, Payton wanted to show Nash's photography, but Nash had something else in mind: She wanted to exhibit her paintings. This was before the opening of the cafe this spring. Nash gave herself half a year to produce the paintings she wanted for the exhibition and they now hang at the Flipside until month's end.
With titles like Looking through the veil of faith, Fearlessly embracing love, The balancing act that killed Grace, I want what you got, Tempting tantalizing treat and Tod's irrational fear of strangers, the paintings, rendered in acrylic with collaging of gold and silver paper, are quite bright and often playful compositions.
In a statement about the show, Nash writes, "The pieces in this show are based on the divine moments in a person's lifetime where they can learn important life lessons that will create change in their perception. They may not realize how it relates to them, although it is the big moment that motivates their character to develop."
The subjects of the paintings were also inspired by old children's stories wherein little morals are disguised in an adventure. Nash was likewise inspired by spiritual influences in her life--like her great-uncle, a Buddhist monk living in Europe, and her artist grandmother, with her strong Catholic beliefs. Nash likes to work with images from either of those traditions and with dichotomies like Heaven and Hell, yin and yang.
When asked what's after the Flipside show, Nash doesn't hesitate. She will be working on more glass pieces and putting together another "casting party" for a list of some 20 women. Her Neurolux co-worker, Danny Stewart, will soon be launching a poetry, fiction and art 'zine, called Nozine, and she will create one of it's covers, probably in January. Nash also has an upcoming January at the Indra Hair Salon and will continue working on the themes that inform her paintings currently on exhibit.
"There are more ideas I could tackle," says Nash. "I just didn't have room in the Flipside show."
Shasta Nash's works will be on display at the Flipside Cafe, 808 W. Fort St., 472-1462, through Nov. 30.