Nichole Westfall

Nichole Westfall

An interview with the renowned West Virginia muralist & painter

Q: Tell us a bit about who you are, where you grow up, and your background as a muralist & painter!

A: I grew up near Bomont, WV — the closest landmark is probably where the Golden Delicious apple was found. I am definitely the product of growing up in a holler, and find myself most comfortable when I’m surrounded (kind of hidden). While typing that last sentence, I realized that may be why I felt drawn to installation, which then turned into muraling / painting large scale. Initially, my larger work was made with woodblock printing and charcoal drawings, then fabric and cardboard, now it’s primarily paint and mural fabric.

Q: How has Appalachia inspired your work and what is your favorite part about living in the region?

A: Living in Appalachia inspires my work because it’s my world. Most of my experiences have taken place in this region, and I feel good about that. This place continues to give so much — with wildlife, the landscape, and the community. I feel a sense of safety in the landscape, immersed but not swallowed. Honestly, it’s the same with the people. There are so many artists (and art supporters) that just cheer each other on, knowing very well that there’s space for all of us.

Q: Where did your love for mural work & decorative art originate?

A: My love of decorating definitely comes from my family. My mother is quite crafty, and always embodied the idea of “if you can’t buy it, make it.” Muraling sometimes feels like decorating a wall of a bedroom, just outside, for someone else. I get to create a moment of joy, or even absurdity, in someone’s daily routine, and the piece becomes theirs. That feels pretty special.

Q: What does the next year look like for you?

A: For the first time in the last few years, I have no idea what the year is going to look like. This is both exciting and terrifying. I’m hoping to paint more personal work — whether that’s for a gallery space, murals outside of commissions, or to make prints. I have a few structures / settings that I’d really love to work with, so I’m going to continue yearning for them (a pool, alley, motel, silo, and a conservatory).

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