Learn as You Grow: Painter and Student Nicolas Mote Is on the Up-and-Up

Illustration by Roosevelt Watson III

In 2016, Jacksonville-native painter Nicolas Mote won two American Vision Awards, one of our nation’s highest honors in art for students. This Douglas Anderson School of the Arts grad is a fresh Renaissance man, bursting with inspiration, imagination and drive. Currently, he is working towards a degree in computer generated imagery (CGI) at FSCJ, and dreams of becoming a film animator. No matter what art path he follows, this is clear: Nicholas is a train, bound for out-of-this-world.

jack: What does it mean to be a young artist coming up in Jacksonville?

Nicolas Mote. : We can see our community growing. I was recently at a 5 Points gallery, for my friend Spencer [his exhibition]. We were a bunch of artists, in one room. We were all looking at the artwork, interpreting it differently, but at the same time, we were all looking at it in the same light. Jacksonville gets a bad rep sometimes, so to be a part of the growing art community is a huge honor. I love the fact that I’m up-and-coming, because it means I’m still growing. I haven’t yet established my style. I think that’s really cool, because at any point, my style could change and grow.

jack: You are on a film animation path at FSCJ. Why did you choose a hometown school, and what has freshman year been like? 

N.M. : During my senior year, my art teacher, Ms. Hogue, told us about different scholarships. A lot of people kind of looked down on FSCJ art grants, and I was like ‘Man, that seems like a great opportunity,’ so I applied for it, and got it. I decided that I would go there for two years, and then go to my dream school, Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). I’m pretty happy that I picked the school [FSCJ]. My freshman year has been pretty cool. I’m not going to lie. I walked in kind of thinking I knew everything already to know about art, since I went to DA. I learned a ton from the professors there [at FSCJ]. Shout out to Liz Bryant. She pushed me to the limit. We had to make a piece completely out of a weird material, so I made a self-portrait out of red Jolly Rancher wrappers. I’m a huge fan of irony and symbolism. The irony is an image of me, with a cavity from Jolly Rancher wrappers. The symbolism is red, representing pain and alertness. I think it’s really cool that a lot of professors over there push me to be a better artist than I already am.

jack: How has life in Jacksonville shaped your art?

N.M. : I’m inspired by people around me, my family, friends and environment. I did a piece of a friend, with a train coming out of his head. He saw it and said, ‘I’m losing my train of thought!’ I thought, ‘Man, why does everything have to be so deep? Why can’t I just paint that, and show a person, and what that looks like?’ It was during finals. I was very frantic, and emotional, so that piece came out of me. Growing up, there was always that comment people would make, ‘Man, you act white.’ I didn’t like that, because how does a white person act? They never could give me an answer, so I decided to do a piece of me, attached to a white version of myself. That’s where the deep meaning comes in, doing that piece.

To see Jacksonville’s 2017 National Gold Medal Portfolio winners check out our gallery here.

To see more of Nicolas Mote’s art follow him on Instagram @nmote247

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