Nicolas Shake is no stranger to Chapman University. In fact, he was an assistant professor at Chapman University from 2011-2013. Shake is primarily an artist, whose work encompasses a wide array of mediums, including paintings, collage, photography, installation art, site specific art, and sculpture.

Shake was raised in Palmdale, California and lives and works in Los Angeles. He received his BFA at the Rhode Island School of Design and his MDA at Claremont University, much like many of the contemporary artists in the Escalette Collection. Furthermore, Shake has a wide variety of both solo and group exhibitions across the Western United States, as well as Rhode Island, home of his alma mater, and Tokyo, Japan.

piece of artwork

Monument, Nicolas Shake, 2011 Photograph, 2012.4.1

The Escalette Collection is proud to own one of Shake’s photographs, Monument , which is currently on display in Memorial Hall. This piece is indicative of Shake’s most popular work, in which he finds miscellaneous abandoned or found items in the desert that he constructs and lights in a unique manner to completely transform the items into something far more abstract. In early 2015, Shake used this method to form a series entitled Humdrum Catastrophes. He built and photographed his art along Southern California’s San Andreas Fault Line from  Coachella Valley to the Salton Sea. In the video below, Shake discusses how he constructs this artwork:

In many ways, Shake’s gathering and composing of the items is art in itself. The colored lights and incorporation of shadow adds yet another layer of depth, while photographing the resulting image on film captures a multi-dimensional experience for the viewer. Says Shake about his artwork,

I focus on the cast-off household and utilitarian items that show up in the desert on the outskirts of Los Angeles. The items I engage with could easily be categorized as rhopography, but it is this insignificance that gives them the ability to be reassigned a new aesthetic value, transforming the rubbish into something unexpected by capturing and conveying its uncanny power and peculiar beauty.

Be sure to visit Memorial Hall and give Monument a closer look! See what recognizable objects are utilized and observe how the piece speaks to you!