Episode 516

Meet multimedia artist Nicole Ashton. From small paintings to large interactive sculptures, Nicole is passionate about all of the art she creates.

AIRED: April 09, 2020 | 0:26:46

- In this edition of ARTEFFECTS,

the deeper meaning behind interactive public art.

- [Nicole] But over the years, I have come to realize that

my passion truly lies in interactive public art.

- [Beth] Eye-catching dishes full of flavor.

- [Genevieve] My dream is serving the food upscale,

but very original, authentic.

Take that dish to the next level.

- [Beth] The artistry of a ship that has sailed the world.

- [Captain Boulware] One of the impacting things

about Wavertree, about seeing her,

is just walking down to the pier

and seeing the majesty of her tall masts and the rigging

that's necessary to make a ship like that work.

- [Beth] And reconstructing identity through art.

- [Delita] I feel like it's my responsibility

to offer a different narrative of who we could be,

of where we came from and the dynamic women that we are.

- It's all ahead on this edition of ARTEFFECTS.

(upbeat jazz music)

- [Announcer] Funding for ARTEFFECTS is made possible by

The Bently Foundation, The June S. Wisham Estate,

Kate and Richard Kenny, The Nell J. Redfield Foundation,

the annual contributions of PBS Reno Members and by

(upbeat instrumental music)

- Hello, I'm Beth Macmillan and this is ARTEFFECTS.

Multimedia artist, Nicole Ashton,

creates large scale interactive public art.

These works have personal meaning to Ashton

and she hopes to captivate and inspire

those who encounter them.

Let's meet the artist and experience

some of these stunning pieces.

- I certainly am an artist in all mediums

but over the years, I have to come realize that

my passion truly lies in interactive public art.

It can reach the masses, it is there and lives on,

will outlive me and will still be making an impact.

Interactive public art is something

as small as a little painting on a wall,

something that grabs your attention, draws you into it

or something as large as a monument,

something that you can go touch, feel, get inside of,

be a part of it, move things around

and anything that makes you feel

like you are a piece of that art.

Public art doesn't work without people.

Curiosity kind of opens up to their own dreams,

gets the mind going and hopefully, sparks something creative

in all the people that go to see it.

All of my sculptures, they always start with a dream

and it's more like they're a machine instead of art.

If I don't take the time to sketch it out,

write things down when I wake up,

I'll have the same dream the next night.

That gets repetition, so I finally just gave in,

I was like all right, I'm gonna follow this,

I'm gonna do this every morning

and that's how Transcendent Souls came about.

That was my first solo piece that I worked on

that was that large of a scale.

It was a crash course in structural engineering,

how to figure out taking a model that's this big

to something that's 28 feet tall

and thinking about all of the structural engineering needs

and wind load.

Transcendent Souls really is about the progression

of own souls, going through the steps

and acknowledging our faults, our strengths

and doing everything in a manner of grace.

As long as you believe in what you're doing

and just keep doing, do it step by step,

that's the process that's worked for me.

(instrumental music)

As You Wish was the project after Transcendent Souls

and it is all about going in with the intention,

knowing what your heart's desire is, what your wish is.

In that, I was kind of pulling from myself all my doubts.

The fear of not having funds to buy the materials

and how it's going to work but when you're in that process

and you've gone that far,

you'll do anything you can to make it happen.

Dreamcaster is an opportunity to look

into all of the what ifs.

So it's really important when you're doing

a large scale piece to do a maquette,

so you can get a better idea

of what your build process is going to be.

I have become the person that thinks about

things like shipping and building.

So, how do you make it fit into a box?

Where are you gonna separate it?

How is it gonna get loaded?

That part of the process is really a good place to start.

The pieces are going to be all reclaimed

with the exception of structural steel

inside the framework of those hexagons of the dome

will be individual dreamcasters.

They're meant to all be different.

The top of the dome will have another crystal

and this time, we're gonna go dig it out ourself.

Anybody can do this, it's all about

just having the drive and the will to do it

and I hope that that's what everybody

who experiences it walks away with.

Public art, for me, it's meant to inspire,

it's meant to excite, it can even be meant to get you angry,

meant to push you to make a change.

Hopefully, it just gets their wheels turning

and they go off and they do amazing things.

- To see more, find Ashton on Instagram


As the owner and executive chef of two Bangkok inspired

restaurants in Michigan, chef Genevieve Vang

makes tasty dishes that everyone can enjoy.

Up next, she takes us on a culinary journey.

(upbeat music)

- I'm still searching, what I lost,

but maybe the fact that you lost something,

it make you stronger, and you never stop.

I was born in Laos, but my original is Hmong.

Hmong people is, they came from China,

border Mongolia and China.

The Vietnam War, 1975,

when the Khmer Rouge went to the country,

then we have to leave the country.

So I became refugee in Thailand, and I fled to Paris.

Food is my passion.

Well food, you have to remember,

food bring everybody together.

Right now, we are at Bangkok 96 Street Food in Detroit

and is located inside the Detroit Shipping Company,

but I like to introduce the Hmong food

to the Metro Detroit area, which is my people here.

Mostly, the food I serve here is from my root.

So you're gonna see how I take the beef and make adobo.

That's the beef jerky.

We take the beef shoulder

and break down the muscle

to make it very tender, like filet mignon

and all the chicken breast,

chicken breast is chicken breast.

All chef cook chicken, but my chicken breast,

somehow is different.

When my customer take a bite for the first time,

they come back.

The sausage is very popular back home.

Homemade pork sausage is the fresh meat.

All natural meat, the pork shoulder

ground with ginger, lemongrass, galangal, all the spice

and you just stuff into the sausage and you let dry.

You let dry in oven, couple hour,

and you put in the freezer.

When you need it, you just deep fry, or you put on a grill.

The Pad Thai roll is interesting.

When I came to this place, open Bangkok 96 Street Food,

I have to decide to make one dish

and that's dedicate the Pad Thai roll to this place,

because it's a bar food.

Because the table is so long,

so I have to take the Pad Thai wrap in the flour

and toast it, cut like sushi, and sprinkle sauce,

and all the spice, peanut and garnish and the lime,

for this place because it's bar food

and the most item in the kitchen is the Pad Thai roll.

It's become so popular and successful.

I hope it's not just a trend.

I hope it's gonna keep going.

The dessert, I like to cook a lot of fruit.

So today, I do a poached pear with wine,

lime, and make a syrup

and finish touch with, you know like, grated sugar.

One by one fresh, but I start from a base, very clean.

That's easy for me to cook for a vegan customer,

and then when the meat come, I just add meat, too.

Everybody responds very nice.

So I believe I do something good here,

because I take care all the allergen people too

and I have a little bit everything for everybody.

My dream is serving the food upscale,

but very original, authentic.

Take that dish to the next level.

When your customer eat the food, they eat with their eyes

and you can take a dish very simple,

make beautiful, elegant, clean and simple.

So, presentation is very important to me

and the food carving is a draw for people.

I am in a retail business.

Every time I went to the food show,

and I always bring a couple piece of the carving there

and is draw the crowd to your table

and it's an art to sell your product.

So it's beautiful, the color is so natural.

It's very attractive.

Food is art and the carving is art.

If you bring two together, it's very powerful.

You got two thing, instead of just one thing.

I'm still have fun.

I still create new dish.

It's never end.

It's so many thing I have to do,

it's just not enough time to do it.

I think I'm gonna keep going until I can't move.

I was recognized to be a James Beard chef.

The James Beard Foundation is a non-profit organization

who recognize all the chef did great job

for many years in a long-term career.

So, I was so happy and so honored

to have that title this year.

My goal is to think about the next generation.

You have to share what you know to the young people.

To be entrepreneur and live in the United States,

I'm still working hard, but I'm so proud to be here,

because I'm lucky.

I was refugee, nothing, and I live in the United States,

have a small restaurant, and people love the food

and I be able to keep going to school, or training.

Another journey to learn something new, another cuisine.

So, I think I'm lucky to have the life I have here.

- Discover more at

And now let's take a look at this week's art quiz.

As of March 2020, how many public works of art

are managed by the city of Reno?

Is the answer A, over 85?

B, over 115?

C, over 185?

Or D, over 215?

And the answer is C, over 185.

In this segment, we head to the South Street Seaport Museum

in New York City to see Wavertree,

the flagship of the museum's fleet.

We get an inside look at this recently restored,

1885 globe-trotting cargo ship

and learn about her history and remarkable architecture.

- The South Street Seaport Museum is a 50-year-old

institution that exists in the original port of New York.

It is located in the buildings and adjacent to the piers

and with a fleet of ships that are representative

of the original port of New York.

So, New York was a port before it was a city.

For us, place really matters.

Where we are doing our work is in actually,

the original accounting houses that are the first

World Trade Center of the city of New York.

The shipping piers and the ships and their connection

to the rest of the world is what built New York.

So we really tell the first chapter

of the story of modern New York.

"The street of ships" is a term that's used

to describe South Street, really from the Battery

up to Brooklyn Bridge and beyond.

The image of the street of ships is that of the bowsprits,

the head rig, the spar that comes off the bow of the ship

and meeting with the city,

hanging over the buildings that are there.

It is that connection between waterborne transportation

and the growing metropolis that represents,

really the birthplace of New York as we know it.

These ships were, in the 19th century, the engines of trade.

They were bringing raw materials in

and manufactured goods out,

but they were also instruments of globalization,

they were instruments of connection,

they were the instruments of the migrations of peoples,

of cultural exchange.

Wavertree is our flagship.

She is an 1885 iron sailing ship.

Many people would refer to her as a tall ship,

so a big tall-masted square rig sailing ship

and she is, for us, the connection

between New York and the rest of the world.

So she was a globe trotter.

She was a, what's called a tramp for most of her life.

So a tramp was the name for a ship that would carry

any cargo, anywhere in the world, as long as it paid.

On the day that Wavertree was launched

in Southampton, England in 1885,

she was a profoundly normal ship,

no more special than a mack truck or a freight car today.

But she is the last surviving ship of her type in the world.

She has outlasted all of her sisters.

She did so actually because of what I think you could call,

a series of happy accidents,

which might not have seemed happy at all at the time.

In 1910, during her second attempt

to try to round Cape Horn,

the cape at the southern end of South America,

and probably the most violent and dangerous

body of water in the world, she was dismasted.

Which means that her tall sailing rig

came falling down to the deck, iron and wood and steel

and cable and cordage and canvas all came crashing down,

destroying the ship's ability to sail.

Remarkably, killing no one.

She was declared by her owners a functional loss.

She was converted first to a floating warehouse.

She was then converted by having her decks

cut out into a sand barge.

She was found by the South Street Seaport Museum

and so in 1970, she came here to great fanfare

and she has been lovingly preserved by volunteers

and staff of the museum ever since.

Wavertree just completed in 2016,

a completely unprecedented restoration project.

Funded by the city of New York,

a 16-month, $13 million restoration

that brought her, really as close to sailing condition

as she has been since she was dismasted in 1910.

Life on a sailing ship in the 19th century

was a pretty grim business.

So let's first think about,

what's the function of these ships?

The job is to get a small pile of coal,

a couple thousand tons of coal, or its equivalent,

halfway around the world or die trying, right?

So, the inversion of importance of money and human life

between the 19th century and now can't be overstated.

Crews were expendable, sailors were expendable,

cargos and ships were not.

It was a rigid class hierarchy,

you can see a really stark example of that

in the cabin door that leads to the captain's saloon.

Inside the captain's saloon, she's a Victorian ship,

so posh, you know, cushions and nice chairs and a pump organ

and a settee and a tea service made of silver and so on.

On that side of the door,

it's brightly finished with varnish and nice panels.

On the other side of the door,

painted white, Utilitarian, work-a-day

and so too was the lifestyle.

Aboard the ship, the captain enjoyed

a pretty comfortable existence.

The sailors lived forward, toward the bow of the ship,

and lived many men to a small cramped thing,

sleeping perhaps on a straw mattress,

eating salted meat out of wooden barrels.

One of the impacting things about Wavertree,

about seeing her, is just walking down to the pier

and seeing the majesty of her tall masts and the rigging

that's necessary to make a ship like that work.

But the real gem is to get into Wavertree

and go down into the hold space,

which is open this year for the first time ever

and be able to take in the size and the scale

of a huge cargo sailing ship from the 19th century.

It's like being inside the belly of a whale

or in a cathedral.

At one turn, incredibly beautiful,

the construction is breathtaking, and yet its function

was to do a very mundane and dirty job

and this is where I would say

that Wavertree is truly unique.

There is not another ship in the world

that has a space inside like the one that Wavertree has.

She isn't the ship that built New York,

but she is of the class of ship

that made New York what it is and so for us,

particularly as the last of her type, she represents

New York's connection to the rest of the world.

That in the 19th century from an east river pier,

you could get on a ship like Wavertree.

You could go out the narrows, turn left, go right,

go straight, and end up anywhere in the world.

(instrumental music)

- For more about Wavertree,


Artist Delita Martin does not limit herself

to one artistic process or technique.

Through printmaking, layering, drawing, painting

and installations, she uses her canvas

to convey a powerful message.

We go to Texas for the story.

- Printmaking is this energy, this anticipation.

I can't wait to pull the print off the press.

I'm just a conduit, you know,

whatever happens in the studio,

I'm allowing the work to work through me.

I've been creating art since I was like five, six years old.

I don't ever remember not creating.

I was in undergraduate school, and I saw printmaking

and I really didn't know what it was.

It was just this magical experience,

is really the best way that I can describe it.

So I decided, you know, one day I'm actually gonna do that.

I work in a lot of different processes.

So I work with drawing, I work with painting,

I work with printmaking,

there is sewing elements that's in my work as well

and so, I bring all of these different energies together

in order to create a piece of artwork.

Layering is very important in my work.

The layering references time, it references history

and all of these different things just laid on together.

In my work, I also use a lot of symbols

and a symbol for me is a circle.

You'll see that shape throughout my work.

It's a symbol of the moon

and the moon in a lot of different cultures,

particularly in African culture, represents the female.

The women in my work are wearing hoop earrings

in majority of the work.

So that's another way of bringing in that symbol.

My work started off really being about

reconstructing identity of African-American women.

When you look at media, of course you have the stereotypes

of you know, the angry black woman

or you know, the club jezabel type woman.

You know, media has set the tone for our identity

of who we are or who we're supposed to be.

I feel like it's my responsibility

to offer a different narrative of who we could be,

of where we came from and the dynamic women that we are.

I was really interested in having the viewer

be able to walk into a piece of work.

How do I translate my 2D work into 3D work.

All of the women I knew,

I've interacted with them five minutes,

some of them I've known all my life.

I decided to make an installation

that really honored who these women are.

So there are 300 plates in the series.

They're drawn directly on the plates.

I used litho crayons to draw with,

so I wanted to stay within the material.

The plates vary because they are actually plates

that were given to me, donated to me

or you know, they were found.

Everything had to have a history

and these women had so much personality and so much life,

I didn't want to just walk into a store

and buy a box of plates.

They are lawyers, they're mothers, they're teachers,

they're activists, they're artists.

There's so many amazing women in the world.

I couldn't draw them all but i wanted all of them

to be a part of this installation.

So for me, the table allowed me to be able

to bring the viewer in, so that they can sit down

and enjoy the work and talk and just have conversation.

You know, who are these women?

What are they about?

What contributions are they making to society?

Those are the conversations that need to be had.

My love for what I do is what drives me.

I love art and I think I'll be exploring different mediums.

I plan on bringing other mediums into my work,

I don't know how or when but I always believe

and I'm always open to it happening.

I refuse to believe that I can't do something.

I think that allows me room to grow.

(instrumental music)

- See more of Martin's work on her website,

And that wraps it up for this edition of ARTEFFECTS.

For more arts and culture and to watch past episodes,


Until next week, I'm Beth Macmillan, thanks for watching.

- [Announcer] Funding for ARTEFFECTS was made possible by

The Bently Foundation, The June S. Wisham Estate,

Kate and Richard Kenny, The Nell J. Redfield Foundation,

the annual contributions of PBS Reno Members and by

(instrumental music)

(upbeat jazz music)


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