Today we’d like to introduce you to Nikki Hune.
Nikki, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I’ve been creating art since childhood. I became obsessed with writing poetry when I was 14 years old. Poetry and story-writing allowed me to escape into surreal worlds within my imagination. At 15 years old, I began playing guitar. Music became an instrumental therapeutic tool for me. I was writing songs and doing drugs. I quickly became strung-out on cocaine and heroin and started drawing, painting, doing whatever I could to feel alive.
My mental health was rapidly declining and I found myself hallucinating – voices, people, sounds. I was delusional and completely paranoid. I landed myself in multiple psychiatric hospitals and drug treatment in my adolescence and early 20’s.
It took some time and a couple tries, but I’ve been clean and on the road to happiness. There’s always ups and downs, but they pass over time.
I graduated college with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Houston – Downtown in 2013 and a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 2014. After my Master’s, I stayed in Philadelphia and built a life. I recorded an EP and another full-length album. Life was starting to move a little too fast and before I knew it, I had attempted suicide. I continued to obsess about thoughts of suicide for an entire year afterwards and didn’t know what to do – so I painted. I played music and painted some more. One day it clicked. The arts served as a protective factor throughout my mental health journey. I was releasing the weight of them onto canvas.
I quickly developed a strong vision; an uncontrollable inspiration. In 2016, I got with some other individuals and founded What it’s Like Project, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to removing the stigma of mental illness through the arts. We have been hosting events around Houston with artists, poets, musicians, and whoever else to perform live and share their story. There is so much passion about mental health advocacy and fusing it with the arts has been an incredible experience thus far.
I am currently in a Ph.D. program, focusing my research on topics such as mental health and the arts. Creativity and education never have to stop.
We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
Visual art: I was an artist in a visual art, poetry and music show at ARKA ART last summer (2018) with Philip Daum and Sean Forsberg. The theme centralized upon our mental health/addiction experiences and our art. It was all abstract, some experimental. I had a handful of paintings (acrylic, oil – wood, canvas) and some other experimental designs on wallpaper.
Music: I just play when I can now – by myself and with friends. I recorded a full-length album and an EP when I lived in Philadelphia. They aren’t accessible online, but there is a youtube video to a song entitled, “Intro to Psychotic Breaks.”
I’m in favor of various types of therapeutic interventions, but I hope to show people that they are not alone and that art is a form of expression that conventional therapy does not address.
All of my art addresses my pain. That’s where I release it, onto paper, canvas, a piano, guitar. My grandmother always told me that my songs were all sad. Maybe they are, but maybe sadness is nothing to be ashamed of. Maybe releasing it is how we get better. I also hope to show others that they can release their emotions and have a voice through advocacy like What it’s Like Project.
Do current events, local or global, affect your work and what you are focused on?
I am in the social work field and try to address social justice, adversities, stigma, etc. daily.
I think What it’s Like Project is a vehicle that is able to tap into advocacy and challenge mental health stereotypes. We can provide education and share our experiences.
Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
Although it is not my specific artwork, I founded What it’s Like Project and the website is www.whatitslikeproject.org
Our Facebook is @whatitslikeproject
Our Instagram is @whatitslikeproject
My art is not in a current show at the moment.
- Website: www.whatitslikeproject.org
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @whatitslikeproject, @hune.nikki
- Facebook: @whatitslikeproject
- Other: https://youtu.be/Qsw0iblHJ8M
Tasha Gorel (personal photo only)