Nikki Brasseur

Nikki Brasseur

Give a brief bio about yourself/ your background/ your history.

I am 37 years old and use she/her pronouns. I come from a small but very eclectic family and have amassed a life’s worth of experiences, both good and bad. I am an artist who works in various mediums. Currently doing my B.F.A thesis mixing installation and plaster sculpture to portray what my experience has been living with an invisible disability. As I have been in and out of medical offices most of my life, I have discovered that channeling those experiences into an artistic platform has opened my own research into the bigger conversations of disability awareness. After I graduate, my goal is to begin a Master’s in the fall of 2022 with a focus on researching and modernizing standards of practice for disability access and inclusivity in institutional settings.

What education have you taken?

Currently a Ceramics major in my thesis year of an honors B.F.A. at Brandon University. I am set to graduate in May 2022.

What accomplishments are you proud of?

I think what I am most proud of has been learning how to ask for help. I have advocated and been a voice for many individuals and communities in my life but significantly, and in many ways, intentionally neglected my own self-care along the way. Over the past couple of years, I have learned how to validate my experiences and have honest conversations with myself about the importance of rest and recovery. Realising my own vulnerability is not a weakness, is my biggest accomplishment.

How did you become interested in your field of study?

I don’t remember the last time I experienced a day without pain. I have been through years of push back and disbelief of my experiences when attempting to explain them to friends, family members, and even my own medical support team. When I started doing research and investigation into my thesis work, I realized how little I had validated my own experiences and access challenges. There is a large gap in research and development for accessible and inclusive regulations in institutional settings, like universities and galleries because of century old European standards. In many ways, this standard has simply failed to evolve with the times. My hope is to bring awareness and address those issues.

What is your philosophy in life?

I have 2 main philosophies:

  • Some things are more rewarding when you need to break a sweat to get them because life is not easy. It never was and will never be, but happiness doesn’t have to hinge on whether your or not your life is easy.
  • Never make the mistake that you have time. Nothing is ever certain, so be the person today, what people will remember you for tomorrow.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

I never like to look too far ahead, because I have found it derails my focus on the present. In the immediate future, I look forward to graduating with my undergraduate degree, and would love to start a research residency over this summer. I look forward to moving cities, to be closer to my family and while I am excited to begin my Master’s degree in the fall, I really want to take this summer to reconnect to myself and this newfound focus, so when the time comes I will be completely engaged in my work and the work I hope to accomplish in the community.

In one sentence, how will you #BreakTheBias?

I plan to #BreakTheBias by placing more emphasis on my own abilities, rather than perpetuating an ableist focus on limitations.

Nominator’s Comments:

Nikki Brasseur is an exceptional emerging artist and scholar who is currently completing her BFA Honours degree at Brandon University, majoring in ceramics. Nikki deserves to be recognized by the International Women’s Day Award because she is one of the hardest working students I’ve ever met. She has determination, perseverance, technical skill, and academic prowess. In addition, she is a vocal spokesperson for issues around disability, trauma and recovery.

Nikki is a talented artist across media, and most importantly, she pushes herself formally and conceptually in everything she does. Her assignments are always completed to the highest level, raising the bar for her contemporaries. In addition to her academic and art production contributions, Nikki enriches the class atmosphere by being a generous critic – she provides astute feedback to her peers, brings a positive attitude, and takes things seriously. She helps to make the class a place where students feel safe to take risks, try things, and move out of comfort zones.

To obtain a BFA Honours degree from Brandon University students take Thesis Exhibition, a 15 credit-hour course where they are given time, resources, and support to create and mount a solo exhibition in the campus gallery, the Glen P. Sutherland.  Nikki is currently taking Thesis Exhibition. Creating a cohesive body of work for a solo show has provided Nikki with an opportunity for growth, she is juxtaposing sculptural assemblages and large-scale abstract plaster works in installations that speak to her phenomenological experience of trauma. Nikki has been making big strides in her practice; acknowledging her disability, working with her physical limitations and confronting physical and emotional pain have been key to unlocking the potency in her artwork. This work extends beyond herself, creating advocacy for accessibility.

In addition to maintaining the highest level of academic and artistic focus, Nikki actively contributes to the community in Brandon. At the University level she was the Gallery Coordinator for the Glen P. Sutherland Gallery, and in the community, she has contributed to the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba by participating in two community art shows, leading a mixed-media workshop, and giving a virtual talk.