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My practice encompasses a variety of experimental processes that animate both natural and constructed environments, seeking to form connections between culture, nature and place. I am concerned with how physical, tactile interactions in nature can shape our inner experiences and understanding of the world. I currently live and work in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Snow Drawing on Cottonwood at the Helen Schuler Nature Centre

I went down to the Helen Schuler Nature Centre in Lethbridge Alberta and found this dead cottonwood that would work well for an intervention. It was minus 12 degrees celsius. Snow began falling as I packed snow onto the surface of the tree. The snow was reluctant to stick but with some time I was able to get it to stay. The drawing process was an organic response to the limitations of the snow adhering to the tree and to line, form, context and space. The drawing evolved from simple lines and modular shapes that I refined with a stick to eventually become a connected form.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A Walk in Pavan Park on Remembrance Day

Walking in Pavan Park on Remembrance day. Hundreds of Canada Geese rest along the shore in the open water of the nearby Oldman river. The sound of honking geese echoes throughout the river valley. I find a small nest and place yellow berries and rose hips in the nest. I walk to the end of a path and place it on a log. On my way back I am curious to see if snow will stick to a cottonwood without bark. It does, so I create this intervention.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An essay written by Nicole Ensing on my exhibition, Process, Place and Perception at the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art in Kelowna B.C

Too often we define nature as a separate entity from humans, ignoring that we are a part of the natural world. In Process, Place, Perception, Troy Nickle’s thoughtful installations bring a fresh nuance to our understanding of natural processes and what we interpret as art.  Nickle challenges our connection with nature and culture, bridging the gaps in our relationships with the natural world. 

Nickle’s body of work has an understanding of the ecosystem from which it was formed; he acknowledges environmental impact and future implications through his choice of materials. The many materials used in his pieces are not chosen on a whim, but are part of his artistic process. Nickle encounters the materials, like the plant species goldenrod, yarrow, or wild rose (some of the many species used in his installation) on walks and hikes while exploring Lethbridge or other parts of southern Alberta. He makes his selection, but waits until the individual plant has set its seed and dried and only then does he take a portion for his work.

Some of these plants are found in After the First Snow Fall, in which Nickle has situated twenty-six pieces (12 distinctive species) of dried plants such that they extrude from the wall as if reaching out to the viewer. Numerous shadows feather out from the lifeless plants in a spirited fashion, mimicking the life that once existed. This piece disrupts the usual interactions we have with plants, often looked down upon by us, but now facing us at eye level, inviting us in. By challenging our normal perception of the natural world, Nickle has highlighted our general disregard for those small plants and the value they hold.

Similarly, Goldenrod Doodle, reaches out from the wall, although the twisted goldenrod has taken on a new form. Due to a fly larva, an engorged gull is now a part of each plant, the plants are twisted and gnarly as if ignoring the shape and order imposed upon it on the wall. Nickle’s arrangement of the materials provides the viewer with a new way of seeing. By elevating and creating structure with the natural materials within the gallery, it challenges the viewer to change their perception of what art can be.

His piece, Endless, stands in the corner of the gallery as if a somber reminder of the past and of things to come. Endless pays homage to The Endless Column by Constantin Brâncuși, symbolizing "Infinite Sacrifice.” Reflecting Brâncuși in form, Endless is a tower of rhomboidal shapes, constructed with drift wood pieces. Nickle’s sculpture brings a material like wood to the forefront, a material that can break down, illuminating the ceaseless ephemeral processes of nature. The structure itself is reflective, possibly symbolizing a stupa (Buddhist shrine), or simply bestowing the gallery with a drift wood cairn. It is this uncertainty that context can impose, thus the viewer is encouraged to take from their own experience, and to think carefully about what the shape, structure, and materials mean to them.

In Process, Place, Perception, Troy Nickle’s installations echo a spiritual sense of understanding; each piece is contemplative and meditative, and open to interpretation. Nickle has put our interactions with nature at the fore, questioning our understanding of life, and our role within it. Nickle provides us with opportunity to look upon nature in an altered context, re-envisioning our relationship to the natural world.

Essay by Nicole Ensing



All images and artwork by Troy Nickle

This work titled, "All Time is Now," was part of the public space component of my exhibition with the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art. The work was situated at the Woodhaven Nature Conservancy Regional Park in Kelowna, B.C.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Making paper with Common Tansy

This work is a the result of the Aldo & Leonardo Wilderness Science and Art Collaboration that took place in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, (BWCAW) of northern Minnesota, U.S. During the residency I accompanied Forest Ecologist Jack Greenlee, his assistant Becca Orf and fellow artist Anaya Cullen who was also doing the residency on a four day canoe trip in the BWCAW. Jack and Becca are working in the BWCAW to monitor and mitigate invasive plants. The work that they undertake involves paddling out to the many campsites along the network of lakes within the Boundary Waters to check the progress of invasive plants, map their locations and pull the plants. The plants that they target are not native to the area, and were usually introduced during European settlement. I learned many of these plants reproduce rapidly and cause major changes to areas where they become established. Some of the invasive plants in the BWCAW include buck thorn, St. Johns wort, Canada thistle, common tansy, hawkweed, spotted knapweed, ox eye daisy, leafy spurge and purple loosestrife to name a few.

I began to consider how I could use invasive plants to make an artwork and build on awareness of these invaders. I decided to try to make paper. Pulling and collecting an invasive plant for paper making would mitigate the population while the material could be transformed into an artwork.  Under Jack's direction I found a patch of common tansy on the outskirts of the town of Ely, Minnesota. The tansy was a terrible plant for making paper, the stalk is really woody and there is not much fibre in the leaves or flowers so the paper I made is quite rough and textured. After several runs I was able to make a rough sheet of paper from the tansy. When I arrived back in Canada, In the winter, I painted an illustration of the common tansy on the handmade paper with its Latin name, Tanacetum vulgare in water-colour.