Bañera de Flora, 2019
As Resident Artist at The Walters Art Museum, I researched art in the 15th-century Northern Art Gallery. I worked with the museum’s curators to understand the origins, meanings, and functions of their art objects. This research informed my work in the studio as I created performance and installation art that responded to the museum’s collection.
Bañera de Flora is an immersive celebration of self-healing and rebirth activated by an ancient feminine practice of ritual bathing. My performance explores the connections between historical religious rituals and the habits and patterns of our everyday, modern lives. I fabricated large-scale sculptural objects and temporarily installed them in the Walters Art Museum. Patrons were encouraged to engage with these objects during the immersive activation including a large transparent bath vessel for ritual bathing in public space, a lifeguard chair serving as throne, an ethereal white garment adorned with crystals, two video light-box-style installations, and sound elements to activate the senses. During my endurance performances, I assumed the role of a lifeguard, monitoring and protecting the galleries as a safe space for self-love. Patrons were invited to observe as I directed visitors around the space and used flowers in a bathing ritual.
Bañera de Flora invites others to step into another universe, recognizing items they are familiar with, but experiencing them in a new way. My performances have others questioning everything they are seeing - “Are they in an arts installation or are witnessing a ritualistic blessing/cleansing ceremony? Is she (Nicoletta) human like us or are they amongst a goddess? Is that a chair or is that a throne? Is she (Nicoletta) helping to guide them to personal self-realization or is she (Nicoletta) doing what many of us do not have the power to do, which is to only save ourselves?”
In a modern world that is constantly discussing the importance of “self-care”, my work encourages others to think about how women have done this in the past, while bringing them back to how they incorporate it into everyday life.