Somewhere along the way, “millennial” became a dirty word, or at least a tainted one—shorthand for lethargy, entitlement and fecklessness. All the while, young female artists were getting to work. A Women’s Thing spoke to six millennial artists on coming of age at the turn of the century and their own stock-taking of their careers thus far.
Los Angeles-based artist Nicole Reber works across sculpture, painting, collage, and language. Her exploration of counterculture, celebrity, cultural appropriation, and on- and offline life provides commentary of the modern Western world. Reber has spoken at MoMA PS1, NADA, and Printed Matter.
What would you like to remember about where you are now when you’re older?
Nicole Reber: I like to stay up late as often as possible, and am trying to gather enough tall tales for my own Eve Babitz-style memoir. I’m just trying to force myself to be as random as I can be in life.
Do you think about age at all?
Nicole Reber: I do, but it’s usually when reflecting on what my personal heroes accomplished by my age. That can be kind of stressful though, so I’m trying to work on that behavior. I think one of the best things about age is listening to or watching a piece of art made by your favorite artist while they were your specific age. Listening to a Neil Young album, for example. It can teach you certain thing about your heroes, and provide a sense of both urgency and comfort.
What about when you were born and raised has influenced your work?
Nicole Reber: I think the older I get, the more I realize that as a child of Southern California, you’re cursed with a cinematic notion of life. I find that I use that to manipulate my insecurities. Living back here has made my memories of certain events feel way bigger and more intense than they were when I was actually living them.
How do you go about creating a piece?
Nicole Reber: Either my writing is completely non-fiction, or based on movies or videos that I’ve seen online. I don’t really imagine stories; anything that’s fictional in my writing is probably something I dreamt. My art comes from my poetry and, depending on the work, features writing from one particular poem, or a collage of lines I’ve written or heard.
Do you have any advice for other young creators?
Nicole Reber: That you don’t have to be loyal to any part of your personality or life, no matter how dominant it may be. You have the ability to choose what will serve you the most. At the speed that culture is moving, people process information really quickly, be that good or bad. So don’t worry about perception—just go do what you need to for yourself.
For more in this series, check out Art in the Age of Instagram: Reisha Perlmutter.