Nikita Ares is a Seattle-based painter originally from Cagayan de Oro, Philippines, who recently received her BFA from Cornish College of the Arts. Her work is bursting with vibrant colors and kinetic energy and explores the vibrations and dynamics of people, objects, and nature. In our interview, we talk about abundance, equality, and honoring the efforts of our queer predecessors.
Happy Pride Month! Can you tell me what this month means to you?
As a queer woman of color, this month is about honoring those who came before me. The ones who made it possible for me to walk down the street holding my partner’s hand and not feel afraid. It’s about honoring the Black trans women who fought hard for our rights as queer people, and even the queer people today who still continue to fight. It also serves as a reminder that we are all deserving of acceptance and that we can all create a more inclusive and equitable society.
Your work is so cheerful and energetic, it screams summertime but also diversity and positivity. What are you aiming to express with your paintings?
I always want to capture the essence of joy in my work. I aim to invite the viewers to remind them of the brightness of this world, kinda like a happy drug. (Lol) I also want my paintings to have the viewers connect with their own stories, to find echoes of their own experiences and emotions. Recently, people have been telling me my work reminds them of food, like candy or bacon… which is always interesting to hear.
You work with a range of mediums, drawings, murals… does a digital stage ever precede putting paint to canvas (or brick)?
With canvas paintings, I like to paint on the spot and see where my mood takes me. I usually plan things out in my thoughts before my studio time starts, to gauge what effect I want the painting to embody. Or what color palette I’d like to use.
For murals, as of recently, I have been using digital drawings to map out where I would put certain forms. Some places require the digital draft. But I always add more things, when it calls to me. Painting on the location really changes the work as I respond to the landscape and the feel of the area.
You’ve stated that your paintings are abstractions from intimate moments, are they actually quite specific? Like snapshots from your life?
My work is heavily inspired by my home back in the Philippines. Not just the scenic landscapes, and the vibrant sounds, but also the energy of those memories when I lived there. It’s kind of like connecting what is happening in that moment and what that moment actually looks like physically, and then describing it through a painting and what that experience looked like in my head. I like painting about how moments can make me feel and shape my sentiments. I’ve titled some of my work as “Dear Diaries,” as most of them are based on my moods throughout the day, or how certain moments made me feel and/or shaped me.
What are your goals for 2023?
Abundance and friendships. And bigger murals.
And what are you listening to these days?
I really like late 2000s and early 2010s bops like Ke$ha or Mandy Moore. I grew up with hardcore karaoke so singing is a must when painting.