US artist Nicole Nadeau, best known for A New Wave (2006), Work of Art: The Next Great Artist (2010) and Road Rage (2016), has used one of her own breasts to create a mould for a collection of hexagonal tiles.
Nadeau created a single mould of her breast to form the tiles, which are cast in ceramic and mounted onto solid-surface material Corian. Each tile is glazed white apart from the areola, which is a rosy pink. The project relates to the mythical Amazon warriors of ancient Greek, who are said to have cut off one breast to more easily draw a bow and arrow.
Nadeau has tessellated the tiles to create an installation at this year’s Collective Design fair in New York, which took place from 4th to 8th May 2016. Titled Everyone Thought I Was You, the wall-mounted piece comprises honeycomb-like configurations designed to look like natural patterns.
Nadeau is a twin, and the artwork is an exploration into the territory between individuality and similarity. Although the tiles look identical at first glance, the casting process creates imperfections that make each one subtly different.
“The idea is that my sister and I are a copy and paste, much like the hexagons in these visual patterns that you see in nature,” explained Nadeau.
Based in New York, Nadeau trained as an industrial designer, and now uses manufactured and natural materials to create installations and sculptures.
“A lot of my work has to do with identity as well as using industrial materials, and I love nature too so that was definitely an inspiration too,” she says.
Much of Nadeau’s work deals with ideas of permanence and impermanence, and the natural life cycle. This work stems from the awareness that the body is an unreliable, fragile tool. As humans age they experience a growing realisation that the body can break down and is, in fact, a structure. Here Nadeau explores this theme and the hopefulness that can be found in such impermanence. Setting up the same parameters hundreds of times and yet achieving different results every time, she says, reflects the fact that while each day may seem the same and dull, it is really new and full of endless possibilities.
“I love science and patterns in nature more than anything,” says Nadeau. “Things that surprise me and get me excited are usually strange facts in science that happen in nature. Its magical, all of these great things are happening all around us, especially ones we don’t see.”
“For me making art is like being a modern day alchemist: having the power or process of transforming something common into a something special.”
Everyone Thought I Was You realises this artistic vision in tile.
This article first appeared in Tile & Stone Journal, July 2016.