Artist Showcase: Christine Merchent Returns

Artist Showcase: Christine Merchent Returns

Here at Nickel Plate Arts, we’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Christine Merchent over the past year. A local fine art photographer, we first met Christine in the Spring of 2017 during her exhibit at Purgatory Golf Club titled “Ballerinas on the Green.” I could tell immediately that Christine is not one to do anything halfway: her photography was impeccable, and most of her photos-on-canvas were bigger than me. She was so kind to give us a private tour of her exhibit, explaining her approach to each photo, down to the minute details. It became clear to me that Christine takes her inspirations seriously and sees each vision through to the very end, stopping at nothing to achieve her goal.

From Christine Merchent’s “Fleur” Series

When Christine arranged to do a second Artist Showcase with us this year, we couldn’t wait to see what new projects she’d begun, knowing that she would apply the same level of attention to complete her new projects. Christine will return to the Stephenson House gallery this May with selections from three bodies of work, including new pieces from “Ballerinas on the Green,” as well as two new projects, “Virtual Worlds” and “Fleur”.

Read on to learn more about her perspective on two of these projects:

Ballerinas on the Green

“I grew up in a small town of less than 5,000 people. When I was 7, I took my first ballet class and absolutely loved it. That was the only year I could take classes, and the best part was going to see Swan Lake. Flash-forward to 2000, and my studio has become the golf course. I love capturing the intensity in a player’s moves, the energy in a swing and the landscape.

The golf and ballet idea came to me in January 2016. I saw a photo of a lovely, delicate ballerina, dressed all in white and en pointe in an otherwise grungy New York City street scene. The contrast was striking and caught my attention. It made me wonder what it would be like to combine my two passions.

It was my husband who made the connection between the two types of athletes, telling me about what golfers and ballerinas have in common: the hours and hours of work that no one sees, just for one event; the abuse their bodies take. They both make it look easy and natural, but it isn’t.

And so, ‘Ballerinas on the Green,’ was born.”

“Duck!” From “Virtual Worlds”

Virtual Worlds

“I began this project after I read The View From the Studio Door: How Artists Find Their Way in an Uncertain World. The author said art used to bubble up from everyday life, ‘…art that flowed from the center of its culture…’ A part of my day-to-day life involves gaming. I have two boys at home and eight nieces and nephews. Everyone in my nuclear family plays to some degree.

People tend to be opinionated about video games. Kids don’t think adults should play popular mobile games unless they have children. Many adults think board games or cards are superior to video games. Everyone had an opinion about Pokemon Go. Like anything that gives pleasure or an escape from reality, video games can be abused. There are even therapists that specialize in video game addiction.

From an art stand point, they provide inspiration to many young people to learn to draw. Kids are opinionated about gaming art. I’ve heard whole discussions about how water is illustrated. The art varies dramatically from realistic to stick figures and everything in between.

I specifically told the kids I photographed, ‘Don’t do anything you wouldn’t normally do. Don’t clean your room, dress up, or wash your hair. Just be yourself.’ I wanted it to be natural, real and believable. After a bit they forgot I was there.

I chose a virtual reality platform for this project because the players interact with the game in space; it’s dynamic and interesting to watch.”

Join us for Christine Merchent’s showcase reception on May 4th from 6-9pm as part of our monthly First Friday programming. Enjoy perusing beautiful blooms in our “May Flowers” exhibit, live music from local duo Marty Jean, live readings of new work from poet Fida Islaih, performances by the Noblesville ComedySportz High School League, refreshments, drinks, and more. After the reception, the Artist Showcase can be viewed during our normal gallery hours: Wednesday – Friday from noon – 5pm and Saturday from 10am – 5pm.

Rachael O'Dell
rodell@nickelplatearts.org