Nikole Cooney

Nikole grew up in a country setting of the small town of Green Valley, Illinois. This sparsely populated but densely wooded environment along the Mackinaw River nourished a long-term appreciation for nature and wildlife. Her formative years were divided between caring for strays, pets, and creating images of the animals she admired. College years proved to be a continuation of this lifestyle. Nikole obtained a degree in Veterinary Technology from Parkland College moving on to work with exotics at zoos in St. Louis and Peoria. Simultaneously she crammed as many art classes as possible into her schedule. The relentless pull of the art world never ceased. Nikole decided to pursue her artistic education by attending The School of the Art Institute of Chicago on a Presidential Scholarship. Today Nikole is a full-time artist residing in northern Florida. This tropical environment has proved to feed the work with new life and experiences. Her work has been exhibited extensively in several galleries in Chicago, Peoria, Baton Rouge, and New York and more.
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Artist Statement

The concept for this body of work called “Inner Wilderness” began with a series of life altering events that took place in the latter half of 2018. A cascade of transitioning happened with the marriage of our daughter, the unexpected passing of my brother, and an unforeseen relocation across country. That being said, I am grateful for the journey. Experience always enriches the work. Just as new experiences were taking place in my waking world, my dream and meditation states grew wilder as well. The images in this body of work were mainly born from these states. This became a fascinating spiritual journey as the images also came with deep messages. Some were direct, others launched me to research the symbolic meaning, history and mythology of the animals and crystals. What I found was a wilderness within wherein lies all the guidance that is ever needed. It is a deep, vast, lush, magical, trying, healing and relentless trek. My hope for this body of work is that the messages and images are not just healing and fascinating to me, but also for those who encounter them. I aim to infuse each piece with the healing, intelligent energy of nature. When we can connect to our divinity, nature, and each other, the wilderness becomes a magical place and the journey, an adventure.