September 19, 2023
Nestled in the stalks of toadstools and fans of turkey tails, illuminated doors and windows invite us in to Nicole Gustafsson’s growing collection of mushroom dwellings. The artist, also known as Nimasprout, creates vibrant paintings and illustrations of fantastical worlds (previously), and she recently returned to a theme recurring in her practice since the beginning: home.
During the past few years, this theme spurred a series of small paintings featuring houses nestled into the forest floor. When Nucleus Portland supplied Gustafsson with a couple of basic wooden mushroom shapes earlier this year for an exhibition titled Clusters, she created 3D pieces for the first time. She says:
I found smaller wood mushroom shapes that I could keep trying out different ways to alter and make even tinier little houses from. The smaller size also allowed me to make more of an environment to nestle the mushroom sculpture into…It was around here that I started thinking of the project as ‘mushroom summer,’ and I was going to keep working on mushrooms until I tried everything I wanted to.
Gustafsson often draws on other peoples’ interests, which inspire miniature circle paintings customized to their favorite species. “Part of the fun of talking about nature with others is finding out what types of mushrooms people really enjoy imagery-wise, cooking with, foraging, etc.,” she says. The commissions are determined using prompts, such as mushroom types, colors, time of day, and weather.
“The idea of being immersed under leaves and tucked away in a cozy space is really appealing,” the artist says. “At a small size, every little leaf and turn around a log can be a whole new world to explore.”
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