Danielle Nilsen

Talkin’ ‘Bout the Way Things Change
secondhand fabric, deconstructed clothing, satin, felt, thread
approximately 14×17″

About the Artist

Danielle Nilsen is an artist living and working in St. Louis, Missouri. She is also an elementary art teacher and mother to two little girls. She creates vibrant collages, fiber pieces, and paintings. Danielle works with found materials such as secondhand fabric and magazines to create collage compositions and “sewn paintings” that reference quilt patterns, other textiles, abstract painting, and the landscape (she began her art practice painting landscapes, roadscapes, and aerials). She also makes paintings that feature the colorful, playful, memory-laden textiles in her life, especially those associated with new motherhood and childhood. Much of her current work explores the themes of identity, lineage, legacy, femininity, and the domestic while also addressing formal concerns such as color, shape, pattern, and composition. She copes with change through creating; deconstructing old ways of living and reconstructing new ones one seam or fragment at a time; bit by bit and piece by piece.


Artist Statement

Hope and repair, deconstruction and reconstruction, new life and old histories, lineage and legacy. Danielle Nilsen’s vibrant collages and sewn paintings dance in conversation with these themes and with each other. In both, she uses found and foraged materials (such as traditionally feminine magazines, donated quilt scraps, and old clothing) to tell new stories. Bits and pieces are arranged improvisationally to create compositions that evoke a similarity to quilts. This functions as a symbol of the process of piecing together a life as well as a reference to the lineage of mothers and makers.

Nilsen is concerned first and foremost with the formal possibilities of color and shape that are discovered through an active process of making: collecting, cutting, sorting, arranging and rearranging, trimming, overlapping, joining, gluing, piecing, pressing, and so on. As color and pattern accumulate, an examination of the connections between part and whole, past and present, fragmentation and repair, simplicity and complexity, and randomness and control occurs.

Secondarily, she inevitably considers the socio-historical associations of working with textiles and textile-inspired processes, as well as the ecological implications of working with found/reclaimed materials.

What is more grounding than joining one piece to another to another to another, watching a new object grow in front of you? What is more meaningful than working with your hands? Taking disparate parts and forming a new whole? In a life that can feel fragmented, full of competing identities, desires, and responsibilities, it feels so good to create order and cohesion (even if it is illusory).