Nicki Stager




In the last few years I've been spending a lot of time thinking about a friend of mine who has Alzheimer's Disease. These images are a few I made thinking about the fragments of memories that we have and how shifty and broken they can be.


In 2016 I started taking some classes at Moravian Theological Seminary. I was hoping to expand the conversations I was having around various spiritual practices and do a deep dive into the ones that felt personally compelling. While I gleaned many things from each of the classes I took, this particular series of images came from an Old Testament class that required us to creatively investigate a section of the Bible that called to us. I chose Isaiah.

Isaiah 6: 1-8 1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. 2 Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. 3 And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” 4 At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. 5 “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.” 6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. 7 With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” 8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

In this series of prints, I hope to remind the viewer that blessings and hardship can be intermingled in unexpected ways. I began with a brand new windshield from a 1988 Chrysler Lebaron. I smashed the windshield over and over with a sledge hammer until it was wrecked. The broken windshield represents the tragedy, in Isaiah’s life the windshield is the sin and suffering of the Israelites. I took the windshield into a blackened darkroom and shined various colors of light through it—as if the windshield had been transformed into a stained-glass window. (The complete darkness of the room requires the artist to be attentive to her senses—particularly when navigating in and around a large piece of shattered glass.) Light has this remarkable quality of being invisible, but illuminating everything that it falls upon; likewise, I’m hoping to make the parallel that God can only be sensed when he illuminates us. In Isaiah’s narrative, this light represents the vision of God which called to him and authentically changed his direction in life. Both the broken windshield and the stained glass are camouflaged by the resulting piece of artwork, but there is evidence of fragmentation within what I hope is a piece of artwork that would not have the same aesthetic value without the full range of color and texture and the same attention to the sensory subtleties of my experience in the darkroom. Likewise, our lives are perhaps incomplete with the unique lived experience of a host of experiences—good and bad—and our acute sensing (within each experience) of God’s sensory guidance.



A statement about the work on this page--particularly what follows.

In the darkroom I paint with light. There is no camera; rarely are there negative. Over the past twenty or so years I have been making images on the threshold between photography and painting, exploring light defined by line, space, form, and color. My specific intention is to create a space to manipulate light. That said, these spaces, perhaps because they sometimes include vaguely or even specifically recognizable objects and/or images, are rarely simply formal. They tend to have unique spacial and emotional interpretations based on the audience. The work begins as a 3" x 3" unique chromogenic photographic print produced in the darkroom. They can be made only once, and are the originals for larger prints (c-prints) made by doing high resolution scans, which are eventually printed at 12" x 12" and 30" x 30".











In response to the events on 9/11...



1999 / I made this project in response to a loss I was sorting through during my first few years of college; my dear friend, Arturo, had been killed in a car accident within weeks of us leaving for college. While I was processing the grief, I took my first color photography class. My professor and new friend, Leigh, gave me a lot of space to explore and experiment, so I had an opportunity to make a project that confronted the grief I was feeling and which ultimately led to me breaking down photography into a form that drew on my love of drawing and building rather than camera-work. I called the project Quadrennial Catharsis.