In unique, artistic expressions she identifies as Altars, Icons and Totems Nix combines religious symbols and everyday objects to create elongated, mixed-media wall constructions. For her Totem Altar, “Spirit Catcher,” an installation for the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City in the 2005 Fall season, an expanded version of her Christmas 2004 installation at Saint Peter’s Church, Nix juxtaposed multiple wall constructions to form a monumental altarpiece. This Totem Altar, “Spirit Catcher”, consisting of thirty-one pieces, including the spectacular centerpiece from Saint Peter’s Church Sin Totem, is the result of years of work, carefully constructing and deconstructing each precious collection and combination of found objects and original paintings and collage. Nix’s book Altars and Icons presents an excellent collection of these spiritually inspired constructions.

While the Spirit Catcher totem triptych may look like a sculpture, it is assembled with a painter’s eye. Encrusted in paint, these crucifixes, toys, animal bones, clock faces, furniture, memorabilia, and jewelry have a spiritual aura and evoke the mystery and seduction of the Baroque. Veiled by layers of encaustic and given a warm glow by Nix’s liberal use of red, the objects take on a sacred significance.

Many of the objects that have been included in each Totem Altar have intense personal meaning for the artist. By merging intimate mementos with other objects found in antique stores and flea markets, she achieves a cultural as well as personal resonance. In Nix’s hand the trappings of everyday life become imbued with religious and emotional significance. The artist expresses it this way: “What is important about ordinary things is that everyone brings to them their own experience, and they mean something different to each viewer.”


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