Lori Nix in her studio

Lori Nix

United States 1969



Lori Nix
Lori Nix
United States
March 18, 2015
Alias of Jasmina Sevic, a researcher and author for Widewalls. She graduated from the Faculty of Political Science (Department for Journalism) in Belgrade in 2013.

Lori Nix is an American photographer whose visions of the apocalypse resulted in amazingly detailed photographs of chaotic or abandoned worlds and strange, mutant flora and fauna. The artist spends time in her Brooklyn studio meticulously building dioramas that mimic tiny worlds on the verge of destruction, made of paper, cardboard and foam and she paints them over in an unbelievably realistic way. The photographs of the final product are both humorous and eerie, but above all masterpieces when it comes to their painstakingly thought-out and controlled beauty that won many awards and brought Nix international appraisal.

Lori Nix’s work features chaotic or abandoned worlds, struck by disasters

Lori Nix - Chicken Truck, 1998 city like miniature small
Lori Nix – Chicken Truck, 1998

Inhaling Rural Midwest Scenery

Lori Nix was born in Kansas in 1969 and she graduated from Truman State University. She studied ceramics and photography and continued to pursue photography at the graduate level at Ohio University. While she was still working on her BFA, Nix started taking photos for a college newspaper as a photojournalist but she quickly discovered that she didn’t have the talent of being at the right place to document news. Nix also claims that she’s not gifted enough for portraiture and capturing the models, so she changed her mind and decided to become a photo editor instead of a photojournalist. When it comes to her another field of interest, ceramics, it involves building the world from scratch and this is something Nix is extremely capable of. Her talent to construct something utterly new outweighs her ability to use already existing objects. Since her earliest days, the artist’s main strength was to construct her own little worlds. Nix is certain that her growing up in Kansas was one of the key factors for her artistic development and visions. The climate in Kansas is quite unpredictable and extreme, which was one of the main sources of excitement among the children growing up there. Also, another important influence when it comes to Nix’s childhood were the dystopian movies popular at that time, such as Towering Inferno or Planet of the Apes. Nix was fascinated by these movies and she instills the elements of dark humor and combines them with the sense of disaster present in all of her works.

Important influence when it comes to Nix’s childhood were various dystopian movies

Lori Nix - Angler Fish, 2009 small
Lori Nix – Angler Fish, 2009

Creating Surreal Scenes

Nix likes to call herself a fake landscape photographer since her work is strongly influenced by extremely tough weather conditions. However, unlike typical landscape photographers, she doesn’t rely on digital manipulation. Nix is using exclusively miniatures and models in order to create diverse scenery and landscapes featuring natural disasters. Her dioramas can be anything from 20 inches to 6 feet large and it usually takes a few months to build them. After they are finished, it takes additional 2 weeks to photograph them using a large format camera. Nix is not working alone – her partner is a glass artist and she is helping Nix construct highly detailed scenes from scratch. The artist is producing around 3 final photographs for every artwork and she is a highly prolific creator who is working simultaneously on many different projects. She also claims to be influenced by 18th-century landscape painters when it comes to the atmosphere of her photographs, which is without doubt sublime and surreal. In addition to growing up in Kansas, Nix’s moving to New York in 1999 had a profound effect on her work. Instead of barren fields of Kansas, Nix is now surrounded by the urban  architecture of skyscrapers and bridges that inevitably found their place in her visions.

Instead of barren fields of Kansas, Nix is now surrounded by the urban architecture of skyscrapers and bridges that inevitably found their place in her visions. Her recent work has a dystopian feel similar to the scenes from Blade Runner or Alien combined with her personal fantasy of what New York City and Brooklyn may look like in some grim future. Nix is uncertain about the actual cause of New York’s decay, as it may be disasters, virus, global warming, hurricane, basically anything. However, she claims that envisioning something deadly and catastrophic is both chilling and inspiring. Also, it is interesting to mention that architectural details of buildings become more pronounced in a quiet and desolate world without people, since these details cease to be functional and their value relies only on their aesthetical qualities. When it comes to her audience, Nix’s goal is to inspire her viewers to explore their own visions, dreams and nightmares of the apocalyptic issues when faced with her photographs. She is emphasizing the idea of photography as a highly subjective medium with the main purpose of introducing an innovative outlook to already known and established ideas.

Nix claims that envisioning something deadly and catastrophic is both chilling and inspiring

Lori Nix - Beauty Shop, 2010
Lori Nix – Beauty Shop, 2010

Important Works and Awards

Nix has been building her miniature models and photographing them since the 1990s. She has produced the following 5 series so far – City, Unnatural History, Lost, Accidentally Kansas and Some Other Place. In Accidentally Kansas, she used a shallow depth of field for her objects and created scenes which are resembling natural disasters and human tragedies. She played with a lot of objects such as wooden boards, tires, cans and boxes, which are often seen in the areas struck by floods. Series Lost and Some Other Place are featuring various rural and urban abandoned areas while Unnatural History is a completely different series. It is an entirely black and white collection of mutant flora and fauna belonging to a dystopian futuristic world. Her most recent series, City, presents an awkward world of the imaginary natural history museum and it doesn’t rely neither on science nor on history.

Lori Nix has received many awards for her work. In 2004, she was given an Individual Artist Grant from New York Foundation and in 2001 she won a residency Light Work, which is a worldwide recognized photography organization in New York. In 1999, she also won an Individual Artist Grant of Ohio Council and participated in Artist in the Marketplace program at The Bronx Museum. Her most prestigious achievement happened in 2014 when she was selected as the Guggenheim Fellow for photography. Nix’s work has been shown all over the US and currently it is in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, The International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, New York, and The Smithsonian Museum in Washington, DC.

Nix’s dioramas are both mentally entertaining and aesthetically impressive

Lori Nix - Subway, 2012
Lori Nix – Subway, 2012

Allure of the Apocalypse

Even though Nix’s work is revolving around the dark topic of the apocalyptic, dystopian worlds her approach is still playful and humorous, bringing some light and freshness into the topic which has been used many times over the last 40 years, both in the movies and books. The artist’s humor and lightheartedness are emphasized by the use of disposable materials such as cardboard, paper towels and clay, making the fabricated quality of the miniatures very evident. Nix is a true daydreamer and visionary whose success lies in her great skill to merge parts of her exterior and interior worlds into the fantastic yet grim landscapes which are mentally entertaining and aesthetically impressive.

Lori Nix lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Featured image: Lori Nix in her studio
All images copyright of the artist.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2016Lori NixNerman Museum of Art Solo
2016Lori NixKansas Focus GallerySolo
2016Lori NixOverland Park, KSSolo
2016Feel Big, Live SmallMiniature Time Machine Museum, Tucson, AZGroup
2016Architectural IntersectionsLehman College of Art Gallery, Bronx, NYGroup
2015Imagined Worlds, Large and Small, the Photographs of Sarah Hobbs and Lori Nix (upcoming)Hillstrom Museum of Art, Gustavus Adolphus CollegeGroup
2014Lori NixGalerie Kluser, Munich, Germany Solo
2014Lori NixAcademy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, PhiladelphiaSolo
20145Th Queensland Festival of PhotographyBrisbane, Queensland, Australia Group
2014Of time and buildingsGeorge Eastman House, Rochester, NY Group
2013Lori NixClampArt Gallery, New York, NY Solo
2013Lori NixG. Gibson Gallery, Seattle, WA Solo
2013Reality basedGalerîa Layendecker, Canary Island, Spain Group
2013Inside the artist s studioBruce Museum of Art, Greenwich, CT Group
2013Curiosities and things of wonderCarthage College, WisconsinGroup
2013Animal skinsVISUAL SURFACES, University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire Group
2012Lori NixPaci Contemporary, Brescia, Italy Solo
2012Lori NixBau-Xi Photo, Toronto, OntarioSolo
2012Lori NixUniversity of Maine Museum of Art, Bangor, ME Solo
2012Lori NixSalve Regina University, Newport, RI Solo
2012I have a dreamPaci Contemporary, Brescia, Italy Group
2012Room in my headSavannah College of Arts and Design, Atlanta, GA Group
2011Lori NixToledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH Solo
2011Lori NixCatherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago, IL Solo
2011Lori NixCEPA Gallery, Rochester, NY Solo
2011Lori NixRandolph Macon College, Ashland, VA Solo
2011OtherwordlyMuseum of Arts and Design, New York, NY Group
2011Toy storyRockland Center for the ArtsGroup
2010Lori NixClampArt Gallery, New York, NY Solo
2010Lori NixMassachusetts Institute of Technology, Center for Theoretical Physics, Boston, MASolo
2010Summer stagedFoley Gallery, New York, NY Group
2010Blow-up! G. Gibson Gallery, Seattle, WAGroup
2010The Museum of Unnatural HistoryClampArt Gallery, New York, NY Group
2010ShootImago Gallery, Palm Desert, CA Group
2009Lori NixMiller Block Gallery, Boston, MA Solo
2008Pictures of thingsVisual Arts Center, Portsmouth, VA Group
2008The constructed imageRedux Contemporary Arts Center, Charleston, SC Group
2008Stretching the truthKohler Arts Center, Sheboygan, WI Group
2007Lori NixRandall Scott Gallery, Washington DCSolo
2007Lori NixPiedmont Arts Center, Pannill Gallery, Martinsville, VASolo
2007Lori NixJenkins Johnson Gallery, New York, NY Solo
2007Lori NixG. Gibson Gallery, Seattle, WASolo
2007Lori NixStephen Cohen Gallery, Los Angeles, CA Solo
2007Lori NixBruce Gallery, Edinboro University, Edinboro, PASolo
2007Theatre of illusionLORI NIX AND LISA STINNER, Gallery 44, TorontoGroup
2006Lori NixManchester Craftsmen's' Guild, Pittsburgh, PA Solo
2006Lori NixJacksonville University, Jacksonville, FL Solo
2006Run for your lives! Diverseworks, Houston, TX Group
2006Fresh: Contemporary takes on nature and allegoryInternational Museum of Glass, Tacoma, WA Group
2006Picturing EdenGeorge Eastman House, Rochester, NY Group
2006Among the treesVisual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit, NY Group
2006Joint ventureNelson Gallery of the University of California, Davis, CA Group
2006I love the suburbsKatonah Museum of Art, Katonah, NY Group
2005Lori NixKendall College of Art and Design, Ferris State University, Grand Rapids, MISolo
2005Lori NixGalerie BMG, Woodstock, NY Solo
2005Lori NixRayKo Photo Gallery, San Francisco, CA Solo
2005Lori NixMiller Block Gallery, Boston, MA Solo
2005InnocenceNew Britain Museum, New Britain, CT Group
2005Vital signsGeorge Eastman House, Rochester, NY Group
2005Are we having fun yet? The Rotunda Gallery, Brooklyn, NY Group
2004Lori NixAlona Kagan Gallery, New York, NY Solo
2004Lori NixG. Gibson Gallery, Seattle, WA Solo
2004Lori NixDiverseWorks, Houston, TX Solo
2004Lori NixSecond Street Gallery, Charlottesville, VA Solo
2004EnchantmentArt Space, New Haven, CT Group
2004Critical massBlue Sky Gallery, Portland, OR Group
2003Lori NixThe California Museum of Photography, Riverside, CA Solo
2003Lori NixMiller Block Gallery, Boston MAt, Solo
2003Staged fantasyGallery Sink, Denver, CO Group
2003Two for flinchingCity Gallery Chastain, Atlanta, GA Group
2003Managing edenthe Center for Photography at Woodstock, Woodstock, NY Group
2003The burbsDFN Gallery, New York, NY Group
2002Lori NixLight Work, Syracuse, NY Solo
2002Insecta magnificaWave Hill, Bronx, NY Group
2001Lori NixKagan Martos Gallery, New York, NY Solo
2001Lori NixWhite Columns, New York, NY Solo
2001Lori NixMiller Block Gallery, Boston, MAtSolo
2001Revival! Bridgewater/Lustberg & Blumenfeld Gallery, New York, NYGroup
2001Toying with realityHouston Center for Photography, Houston, TX Group
2001PeaksKagan Martos Gallery, New York, NY Group
2001Voies offArles, FranceGroup
2001SpacetimelinksPenzenstadler & Schaller Architekten, Barr, Switzerland Group
2000Untitled (Conjecture)SF Camerawork, San Francisco, CA Group
2000It'S a cruel worldWhite Columns, New York, NY Group
2000FlurryThe Rotunda Gallery, Brooklyn, NYtGroup
2000Artist in the marketplaceThe Bronx Museum, Bronx, NY Group
1999Lori NixEpixenter Gallery, Houston, TXSolo
1999The artist as patronThe Alternative Museum, New York, NY Group
1999Embellished truthsThe Clement Gallery, Center for the Visual Arts, ToledoGroup
1998New voicesNEW VISIONS, The Alternative Museum, New YorkGroup
1997Lori NixArtemisia Gallery, Chicago, IL Solo
1997Altered egosHallwalls Contemporary Art Center, Buffalo, NYGroup