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Neofolk at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery

Anne Faith Nicholls gets to the heart of L.A. with its growing skylines, swimming pools and SoCal brush fires at her first solo exhibition.

All art, to some degree, is autobiographical. Anne Faith Nicholls would agree. Her paintings and illustrations form a visual diary of her life – from her pastoral upbringing in Northwestern America to her new status as an up-and-coming artist in the L.A. art scene.

“I like the way folk artists used paintings as a way to chronicle their day to day lives. I am doing the same with my experience in Los Angeles,” Nicholls said. “It’s about change, relocation, growth, uncertainty, emotion, fear, love and perseverance.”

All things the 29-year old artist is familiar with. Nicholls was born with a congenital heart condition that caused her heart to form backwards. A number of open-heart surgeries throughout her childhood corrected the malformation, but left her with a large scar down the center of her chest – a vertical mark that has become somewhat of a trademark in her work. “Whenever you see a character in my work with a scar, it’s a safe bet it’s a self portrait,” Nicholls said.

Neofolk, which opens at La Luz de Jesus Gallery on September 5th, is her first solo exhibition in her new hometown. She moved to Los Angeles six months ago and set up her downtown studio in the newly revitalized Pacific Electric Company Building. The show will feature new work and installations inspired by Southern California brush fires, swimming pools and the ever-growing Los Angeles skyline.

Dazed Digital: How do you like L.A.?
Anne Faith Nicholls: I love it. It has changed everything in my life. I love L.A. weather, the people, the culture, the possibility, the urban sprawl, the wealth, the movies, the style, the museums. It’s great.

DD: How would you compare the L.A. art scene from other cities?
AFN: L.A., S.F. and N.Y.C. are incredibly different in all ways, but art-wise, I think L.A. fuses fashion music and art often, and New York tends to keep it more separated and conceptual. SF has lots of old money. L.A. has lots of new money.

DD: Who are some of your favorite L.A. artists?
AFN: I have a lot of local favs: Jacob Arden McClure, Liz McGrath, Mark Ryden. But my all-time favs are Neo Rausch, Frida Kahlo and Rene Magritte

DD: What inspired you to become an artist?
AFN: I was an only child with a very busy single mother, so I had to keep myself busy. We didn’t have a lot of money, so I took to art, and creative projects that used exercised my imagination. As a child I was bit different and always somewhat of a loner. Much as I do now, I enjoyed photography, flea markets, nature, travel and collecting things.

DD: How do you think your work has evolved over the years?
AFN: My work has changed a lot over the last few years, and I am constantly trying to improve. Recently I have been really into portraiture. For example, drawing on antique photographs as reference. Also, moving to California from the Northwest has been a big change. I feel as I paint more and more, my work becomes a little more personal and motivated in its content. I am a very private person by nature, but my paintings reveal all my naughty secrets.