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Boxed in: Performance artist Nicky Watts explores emotional isolation

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Outside the box: Nicky Watts’ Isolation.
Photo: Anna Olga Aristova /

Feeling emotionally disconnected from others and wanting to “disappear,” performance artist Nicky Watts did something quite the opposite. She put a clear Plexiglas box over her head and went out to meet the world directly, making herself vastly more visible while floating her anxieties before her in conversations about the thing on her head. Not only was Watts not disappearing, the reflective quality of the Plexiglas box allowed her to see those standing behind her, intensifying the awareness of people staring at her—essentially, putting it right up in her face.

Nicky Watts' <em>Isolation</em>.

Nicky Watts' Isolation.

This all began July 31 of last year. Since then the fear-confronting/socially experimenting Watts (via her “Nicky Watts in a Box” project) has traveled the U.S., performing before audiences or simply tending to daily routines—in the box that serves as a physical representation of the walls she put between herself and others. In April, Watts leaves for India and more than a dozen other countries to see how other cultures relate to the idea of emotional isolation.

Catch her exhibit, Isolation, at Brett Wesley Gallery. The photography show provides a small glimpse into the experience: Watts traveling through the airport, perusing a fruit stand or posing for in-studio portraits.

Isolation Through March 29; Wednesday-Friday, 1-8 p.m.; Saturday, 1-4 p.m. Brett Wesley Gallery, Art Square, 433-4433. Opening reception March 6, 6-9 p.m.; performances March 6 & 7, 7 p.m.

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