IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE AN ARTIST Nick Cave talks creativity, innovation and family. Words By Grace Banks Photos by James Prinz Photography. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York Nick Cave made waves earlier this year when he descended upon Grand Central in New York, clad in a horse costume. Those interested in art, yet unfamiliar with Cave, may have perhaps assumed this was the artist’s breakthrough piece. It’s quite the contrary. Cave has been working in performance art since he was a child, and is an artist with a future firmly rooted in his passion for dance. It’s this zest for his trade which pushes him into the modern art scene in both New York and internationally. From an early age, Cave knew there was a unique, creative energy in dance that appealed to him. It wasn’t just the dance that enticed, it was the culture around it inspired by his family. As a child Nick was encouraged to participate in grade school talent contests where his family - his mom, dad and six brothers - would support him from the front row. “As a kid, I was always informed and introduced to this way of thinking and collaborating.” The family were particularly close and the artist attributes this bond to the strength and drive in his career. “Unconditional love, compassionate, supportive — you have that kind of foundation, surrounded by a village of people that brought on this level of encouragement.” With unwavering support behind him, Nick set off to, well, do his thing. Although he wouldn’t call himself an artist — “I’m not an artist, I’m a messenger” — after completing his Masters, Cave left with the ability to “strategically define how to navigate.” He began to investigate ways to fuse performance and art. “To pull people together, to create a happening, it was part of a natural way of working.” It was a forte in which he could completely own. “I always made everything we all wore, always came up with the concept and movement in the piece.” The idea of performance as a message is a clear drive of Cave’s. “It’s a missionary kind of duty, I want my work to be a vehicle for change. The purpose is not to be an art star, if that comes along with my studio practice and beliefs, that’s great.” How does he convey this message? The body. “I’ve always made things for the body, to me the body is nothing more than a carrier.” Cave is inspired by the LA riots, movement and physical autonomy. The narratives of our bodies is one Nick notes as significant — “to be a black male in america is the most amazing thing. It fuels my ideas.” Back to Grand Central station and the installation performance piece seems entirely on brand for Cave. Self-defined as “making work from camaraderie of our city and space” — the future’s bright for this walking messenger.