THE EMOTIONAL INTERACTION OF PUBLIC SPACES
A Spotlite on SHERRIE NICKOL
Sherrie Nickol by Jillian Mercado
Finding love can be difficult for some people and a beautiful journey for others. New York based photographer Sherrie Nickol has taken a collection of photographs in which she explores the “joys of freedom and first loves” in their natural environments, the love of families and close friends.
Living in a city as crowded as New York City, Sherrie finds populated areas and zooms in. The emotional interactions of these crowds are shown in her new exhibition, Crowdscapes, analyzing groups of people and their relationships with one another.
Her peaceful glimpses into the beautiful chaos of crowded life and the simple joys of romance have given her a chance to have a permanent collection in Paris, and to show her work at Parsons School of Design. Follow me as I enter the calm, stress-free world of Sherrie Nickol as she captures love in its natural habitat.
Jillian Mercado: Oftentimes in the summer I wish I had a camera to capture “in the moment photos.” I get that same feeling with each of your photos. So I was wondering: Do you often carry around your camera with you to capture spontaneous moments, or are they planned out ahead of time?
Sherrie Nickol: As an art and commercial photographer I spend most of my waking hours thinking, dreaming, pondering and sensing photography. On weekends in NY or on my travels, I always carry my camera in search of that magical moment when people connect with each other or connect with me.
I also plan documentary/portrait photography sessions with people–some that I know and some that I do not know–but that too is an attempt to capture the subjects as they hang out and simply be who they are.
Jillian Mercado: Family is a reoccurring theme in your photos. Calmness pours out of each of them. I can imagine my family doing the same sort of activities. Is that something you can personally reflect on or relate to?
Sherrie Nickol: Family and friendship is a significant part of my life and of my photography; it is heart, soul, and center. My own family is a source of inspiration for me. Being a mom and having a child allows you entrance into playgrounds, beaches, parties, and picnics where other families are gathered, and having a camera around your neck is a very natural response. People generally are unaware of me while I am photographing. I love being able to capture that intimacy between families and friends..
Jillian Mercado: You are a New York based photographer, yet many of your photos are taken away from the noise of the city, which seems to me quite refreshing. I’m curious about how you choose the locations of your photos? Do certain locations elicit certain emotions? Or how do you find these intimate moments in intimate places?
Sherrie Nickol: Beaches, lakes, and swimming pools are locales where I find solace and inspiration for my photography. It is in these types of settings that people are the most carefree and relaxed. On the beach, you have people playing on the sand, watching the water…it’s therapeutic and thought-provoking. And capturing romance, especially at the beach, is always a delight for me as a photographer.
For many summers, I have spent several weeks in the lovely resort town of Dinard, France. The two beaches there, Plage de l’Ecluse and the Plage de St. Enogat, are set between mountain cliffs and are absolutely gorgeous. Some of my favorite photographs have been created in this location.
Jillian Mercado: Having personal space can sometimes be close to impossible living in New York City. As you’ve stated, you “love to photograph how people share a public space. Once they stake out their area, it becomes their own private space, and the act of photography crystallizes the boundaries within boundaries.” Could you elaborate on this idea of boundaries within boundaries?
Sherrie Nickol: Central Park is a perfect example. In late May, early June, on those very first hot days of summer, hundreds of people in sunbathing gear gather in their own groups on the 15 acres of Sheep Meadow to share space under the sun. What I find interesting is that everyone carves out their own space but at the same time they are all sharing the public space. Once a person or a group of people spreads a picnic blanket, that public space becomes private space.
The camera can play a great role in documenting boundaries within boundaries. My role in creating photographs of crowdscapes–in parks, at museums, and at the beach–is to reflect the group dynamics of a gathering; being part of a group, yet also being completely alone.
Jillian Mercado: I am curious about what comes next for you? Any new projects?
Sherrie Nickol: With warm weather approaching, I will begin my journey through public spaces, in New York City and beyond. Also, for the last 18 months, I have embarked on a very large project with my husband, fellow photographer David Katzenstein, called The Citizen Project. We are in the process of photographing thousands of people in our studio, and so far the response has been fascinating, as have the people. This project began as a fine art idea and has grown over the last year into a commercial venture as well.
Jillian Mercado: Lastly, so what ultimately does the future hold for Sherrie Nickol?
Sherrie Nickol: I am so lucky to experience the world through my lens and hope that my current projects will lead to new adventures near and far.
Sherrie Nickol is a New York based photographer who in recent years has been exploring the relationships between people and their environments. She studied photography at the University of Cincinnati and later at the International Center of Photography in New York City. She works out of her studio in the NOHO section of the city where she manages both her fine art projects and her commercial clients. In recent years she has used her talents to work on projects about people and their environments for various clients: Canon, Wal-Mart, Philips, YMCA.
Nickol’s photographs are in the permanent collection of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris. In 2002 her photographs were part of the group show, A Midsummer Night’s Interlude, at Sotheby’s, organized by Parsons School of Design. In May 2001, at the National Arts Club, Nickol mounted the show The Best Things in Life, a collection of her black and white photographs that explored childhood in a variety of cultures, finding commonalities in the joys of freedom and first love.
Sherrie Nickol interviewed by Jillian Mercado
Written by Jillian Mercado
Photography and Art by Sherrie Nickol
Design by Jillian Mercado
Sherrie Nickol at her NYC studio, 2011, New York City, Photography by David Katzenstein / Courtesy of Sherrie Nickol
“Sheep Meadow”, Central Park, New York City, Photography by Sherrie Nickol
“The Metropolitan Museum of Art”, New York City, Photography by Sherrie Nickol
“4th of July”, Block Island, Rhode Island, Photography by Sherrie Nickol
“Young Thoughtful Woman”, Plaza Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France, Photography by Sherrie Nickol
“Girl Crying”, Paris, France, Photography by Sherrie Nickol
“Children Playing”, Dinard, France, Photography by Sherrie Nickol
“Swimmers”, South Beach, Florida, Photography by Sherrie Nickol