School of Art Design and Art History

B.F.A. Student Spotlight: Nick Searle



Artist Bio

Nicholas Searle was born and raised in Virginia. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with a concentration in painting and drawing from James Madison University. He has worked with various clients and created images that have been seen across the country. Among his most prominent works are his illustrations featured in books by Wayne J. Vick and his graphic design images for The STAR Touring & Riding Association Chapter 474 of Manassas, VA. 

Artist Statement

Art is and has been my life for as long as I can remember. It is not merely a form of entertainment, but an effective tool for communicating thoughts and ideals to the viewer. I began pursuing a future in art after my brother died in 1999. I was only four, and I was lost without him. I couldn't really talk about it, as I had no concept of death, and I did not have the language skills at my young age. By chance, I was taken to a bereavement through art program, and I was able to communicate through art.

Because of that program, I was able to make sense of what happened to my brother, and move on as best as I could. I began school and struggled immensely to communicate again. It was years later that I was diagnosed with Autism, a developmental disorder that affects abilities to communicate and interact with people and surroundings. It's a daily challenge, and it gets very ugly sometimes, especially when I can't understand what's going on around me, and I don't know how to react. Sometimes I freeze, while other times, I break down because it proves to be overwhelming.

In college, I began to experiment with the notion of emotional artwork again. The support I received was phenomenal, and people could really understand what I was trying to say because I used striking imagery that could put them into my shoes. It was my senior year of college at James Madison University when I truly learned how much of an impact my work could have. I had hundreds of people viewing the work that I have made specifically for the "Autism Perspective" series, and it helped promote Autism awareness to a fair extent. It was at that point, with all of that feedback I was receiving, and people under the spectrum agreeing with me, that I knew I wanted to continue my Autism work as a professional, and as an activist. I struggled to find my voice, but art gave me one. I want to use that voice to help others find theirs.

​How I Feel: The Autism Perspective

I was able to exhibit my work in the Duke Hall gallery at the end of my senior year at James Madison University. I felt that this was something my whole life was leading to, where I could finally share my feelings and what I experience everyday with Autism. I took specific paintings, prints, and ink works that I had created over a period of three years, and placed them together with slips of paper containing handwritten notes about my daily life and thoughts that go through my head. The whole purpose here was not only to give the viewer a visual representation of the complicated experiences I have with emotions, but to also provide them with a written example of the problems I face daily.  Being under the Autism spectrum affects one's ability to interact with others and their surroundings. The point of this was to give people an understanding of what some people with Autism go through, and help promote awareness of the disorder. You cannot judge a book by its cover.

Work from the Autism Perspective exhibition

Work from the Autism Perspective exhibition

Work from the Autism Perspective exhibition


Published: Monday, May 21, 2018

Last Updated: Monday, May 21, 2018

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