Nikkie To was born in Hong Kong in 1992 and has since immigrated to Canada. To’s works unveil alternative narratives of immigrant lives and notions of identity. Identity, cultural globalization and social constructs that shape the conversations and understanding around mental health, minority groups and gender binaries are central to her work. She explores private human experiences within a larger societal context, specifically focusing on the perspective of an individual’s psyche and its metamorphoses. This is seen through her juxtaposition of opposing social concepts such as: cultural coexistence vs. assimilation, individual vs. communal experiences and spaces, and what we understand as regular vs. irregular behaviours. The stigmas around mental illnesses, minority groups and gender binaries are still so deeply embedded in our culture today and are in many ways linked together; in her work she aims to reference some of these dichotomies.
In our private moments of self-reflection we come to terms with all facets of our identity and that moment of contemplation that we have with ourselves is what she strives to capture. The figure and the human form are the focus of her paintings. They are often fragmented and placed in introspective reimagined abstract spaces, creating constructed identities and environments. Her audience become onlookers of these figures and can reflect on their vulnerabilities, themselves and on humankind. She wants to connect people with people. The images she creates are a vehicle to raise questions about what we understand as reality, what is in fact a figment of our own creation and how we often misunderstand our own image of self.
To received her Honours Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art from McMaster University in 2014, participated in Red Gate Residency, Beijing in 2015, has run a successful Indiegogo Artist-in-Residence Crowdfunding Campaign, and has received the Capacity Building Initiative: Travel Grant from Canada Council for the Arts. Her work has been exhibited in Hamilton, Toronto, and Beijing, as well as having been published in Incite Magazine, ON; Fierce Magazine (Digital Publication), ON; and The Artist Catalog, NY.