Within the individual human being there exists the struggle between the instinctual drives, and their destructive and transformative forces. Efforts to control instinctual and primal desires often result in a distancing, distorting and/or wounding of self in the process. Carl Jung described this as, ‘a primitive loss of a soul or even the pathological cause of a neurosis.’ Nicole Charles’ where there is a wound is a study of the emotional, imaginary, and spiritual experiences that arise from these internal conflicts.
Drawing is the starting point of Charles’ practice. In her words, ‘It provides a fast and direct outlet that allows me to instantly tap into a primal unconsciousness of raw emotion and energy.’ Sculpting, for the artist, is also an intimate and gestural process, and somatic memory in the act of making is an important aspect of this. ‘As the clay takes shape one begins to feel the manifestation of something; it is like getting to know someone or rediscovering something long thought lost or forgotten. Through this process a kind of reconciliation occurs. Each sculpture functions as an emotionally charged container: symbolic of latent thoughts, experiences, and drives.’
Animalistic figures are used as a reminder of the affinity we share with animals, but also in an effort to, in Bachelard’s words, ‘press beyond the human condition’ and to reach an essence of man that does not recall humanity. Charles puts forward that, like animals, we are a piece of nature: neither good nor bad. There are forces and emotions that can function outside of any culture or belief system. The work in where there is a wound presents the things over which we have no power; what we all experience, and therefore have in common, such as raw, base emotions. Slaves to this we become overwhelmed by desire and consumed by instinctual drives one barely understands.
Charles states, ‘In this body of work there lies the wounded result of disavowed passions and tensions between body, mind, and spirit. Something is borne, offered, taken, lost or shared. It is an impasse, of strength divided and locked, pushed and pulled. It is the stripped down bareness of what we are: the fragility and mystery of our being that is sacred. In this kind of self exposure are the means to self-recognition, understanding, and spiritual growth. An avenue to some lost vital truth of the self, and a form of language for the Self and the Other. In this way connections and communication become an emotional entanglement that flows both ways.’