Erika Nelson is an independent artist and educator, exploring contemporary art forms in the public realm.
While living in a vehicle for two years, she explored the nooks and crannies of the United States seeking out the odd and unusual, gathering stories of people who build Outsider Art Environments, as well as Roadside Vernacular Architecture known as World’s Largest Things.
She developed her own traveling roadside attraction and museum featuring The World’s Largest Collection of the World’s Smallest Versions of the World’s Largest Things, , settling in Lucas Kansas in a house adjacent to S.P. Dinsmoor’s visionary folk art site The Garden of Eden.
Her work manifests itself in a series of interesting, innovative, engaging public art projects that incorporate Art into the Everyman’s everyday experience. Her large-scale image work utilizes bright colors meshing historic imagery and conventions into pop-inspired colorways.
Erika’s community based projects involve research into the community itself, often involving input and participation by community members through a series of information-gathering meetings. Community members are encouraged to not only provide information, but visually contribute to final forms of murals, collaborative actions, or sculptural explorations. This community involvement is artist guided, with the goal of maximum inclusion without censorship. Most works take place in the public realm, sometimes in unexpected places, engaging public that may not traditionally participate in formal art activities.
Erika’s hands-on activities are geared towards middle school ages and up, with an emphasis on artist guided research and implementation of discoveries. Resulting sculptural work teach basic construction techniques, often with non-traditional materials, while two dimensional explorations explore alternative ways of seeing and translating traditional techniques. Mural projects involve methods of production, technical skills related to composition, design enlargement, and the how-tos of painting large, and best practices in facilitating a community input project.
Mural pricing varies with project parameters, size of the mural, placement of the mural (Is it inside? Outside? Does it require a lift? Does it require safety harnesses?), mural substrate, and desired amount of community input. I give a ballpark estimate of $30/sq ft, to give an idea of budget minimums. Murals shown have ranged from $5,000 to $30,000, many with a percentage of in-kind work and support.
No travel restrictions. Mural projects range from 3 – 6 months, with 1/2 of that on-site. Timeline includes multiple site visits with community stakeholders, remote studio work, and on-site mural production. I am a brush painter, usually on-site for the bulk of painting time, with some project able to be produced remotely and installed in a shorter time period.