Nikki Scioscia: Interview



“I hoped to answer the question, ‘When everything around me is different, what of myself remains?'” 

Nikki Scioscia is a 22-year-old emerging artist from South Carolina who combines repetitious mark making with experimental photographic processes. She makes layered, surreal portraits of women that reflect the powerful beauty of the divine mother & the objectification that torments both women & the natural world. Nikki recently received a BA in Studio Art from the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina & was awarded the Tyzack Prize for artistic achievement. In 2013 she studied at Florence University of the Arts & the printmaking school Il Bisonte in Florence, Italy. Nikki currently works on a farm on Maui, where she feeds a garden, feeds her mind with rainbows, & is working on new photography projects & many drawings. She plans to start a business of naturally dyed scarves and other wares that will be screen printed with her detailed designs.

"Pull the Veil"

“Pull the Veil”

Laura Knapp: First off, who are the women in these photos?

Nikki Sscioscia: There are a lot of self portraits because I can distort my own image without the inevitable layers of feeling that come with photographing others. I set up my camera on a tripod with a self timer. The shoots become theatrical and weird. But I do photograph my friends. Their spirit adds a special element to the work. Last summer I received a scholarship to take a two week alternative processes photo workshop at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. I didn’t bring any old negatives with me, & I was nervous that I wouldn’t make good photos without a couple of models. Luckily, art camp is the best, because my new classmates felt the same way & wanted to get to work immediately, so within a few days we were running naked in a field of fireflies at dusk, experimenting & taking photos.

"Badass Bitch"

“Badass Bitch”

LK: I noticed that every image has a title, but the overall body of work does not have one, is there a reason for that?


NS: I never thought of titling it. Maybe I could call it, “What I Was Feeling Like In 2012-2014.”


LK: How long have you been working on this unnamed photo project? Do you think it is a complete body of work or have you only just begun?


NS: This project spans two years of darkroom experimentation. Right now I have no darkroom & it feels more appropriate to sit outside and draw pulsating jungle scenes and magical women. I am happy to share this project since I can’t work on it right now. But I love pushing the boundaries of surrealism in the darkroom. I want to explore more ways to sew into my photos. I’m not finished.
"My Cross"

“My Cross”

LK: When did you decide to add the extra element of experimentation (ex. sewing into or drawing onto your prints) to your photographs? Is this process therapeutic for you?


NS: I was making detailed drawings long before I gained access to a darkroom. Merging drawing & photo was a natural progression, a way to make sense of my interests. I draw crystals and mandalas obsessively. Drawing was my meditation long before I tried meditation. When I am creating, I am not my thoughts. The work is automatic.

"Shower Sadness"

“Shower Sadness”

LK: Who or what inspires you to create your work?


NS: Lush jungle, ethereal blue twilight, the fleeting moments of delicate beauty that I try to soak up with my eyes. Ideals of feminism & environmentalism. I realize that I need to share these ideals more intentionally as a civic responsibilty. I admire how Francesca Woodman manipulated her body to make photos that represent themes larger than herself. She was raw.

"Breathe Deeply"

“Breathe Deeply”

LK: Do you have other bodies of work that relate to femininity as well?

NS: I have been drawing portraits of women for a long time. The screen printed items, inspired by these drawings, will surely relate to femininity. Anything that I disseminate to the public should represent strong, badass, graceful, magical females. Otherwise I am just contributing to consumerism, and that’s the last thing I want.

"At the Feet of the Divine"

“At the Feet of the Divine”

LK: Lastly, what made you decide to uproot and begin working on a farm in Maui? How has moving there changed your artistic ideas?

NS: I graduated from the College of Charleston with a Studio Art degree in May. It was time for another adventure. I wanted a nontraditional learning experience in a remote location. Through the pains and joys of independence, I hoped to answer the question, “When everything around me is different, what of myself remains?”


I planned on a different location for many months but at the last moment those plans fell through, & within a couple of frenzied days I decided that I would work on a farm on Maui through the WWOOF program. Maybe my choice was rudimentary, but all elements align for me here with strange synchronicity.


So here I am, tucked in a valley on a river, immersed in yoga intensives & soil up to my elbows. The soil is so alive. I dreamt of feeling this connected with the earth: rising with the sun, caring for the garden, eating kale & bananas, & moreover understanding natural patterns that used to seem mysterious but are intelligent & precise. My yearning for the natural world is evident in this photo project. Living on Maui amplifies the themes that I have been working on, like the interconnection all beings & the archetype of the divine mother, & I plan to elaborate on these themes.


When I work outside I have ample time to think about what I want to make of myself. I have a plan to begin a line of scarves & clothing, which I will dye using plants & screen print with my hand drawn designs. These wearables will relate thematically to my photo work, & you will see that the intricate lines I layer atop my photos have a life of their own. On Maui it gets cool at night. You see these beautiful men and women with light scarves in vibrant patterns & colors wrapped around their shoulders. I would like to make work that becomes intimate with wearer, something special that can be worn every night.

To see more of Nikki Scioscia’s work please visit:


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