Standing at 5’4 and brown haired, Nikola, a senior here at New Paltz High School, may blend into the group of countless artists in New Paltz, but this is anything but the truth. As a child, Nikola struggled with speech and writing, and turned to art as a form of expression. Armed with countless stories to tell, Nikola excels in her art classes, and comments from her teachers reflect that.
Mrs Pountain and Mr. Woods, her art teachers, describe Nikki as “willing to work until it is perfect” and “a very driven individual”. Mr. Woods, Nikola’s NPZ class teacher, says that he wouldn’t be surprised if Nikki makes a name for herself creatively. He even goes as far as to say “I would be surprised if she didn’t”. Mrs. Poauntain, Nikki’s AP Studio Art teacher, describes her work as “bright, graphic, and personal”. Both Woods and Pountain praise Nikola’s work and say they loved having her as a student.
Although she tends to prioritize fun with her work, Nikki says that she still values sending messages if she sees the need for it.
“I am not super serious with my art, I mean I can be, but I try to have fun,” Salvestrini says. Her sunshiney attitude helps personify her fun-loving mindset.
Art has given me not only a way to express myself but a way to have a career and to have a passion.”
Nikki also holds a job as an assistant to Lady Pink, an artist based in New York City. This job, Nikki believes, has taken her farther than she could have ever imagined at such a young age. Nikki has taken part in murals with Lady Pink, and considers her lucky for her position, which she describes as “rare opportunity many don’t get”.
“In 2020 when the world was shut down I got an offer from Mr. Martin (Nikki’s studio art teacher at the time) in my freshman year. I did… [a] mural that year with Lady Pink and our design was this BLM-LGBTQ rights mural in the Majestic Park in Gardner,” Salvestrini says.
Nikki submitted a design to Lady Pink and she ended up loving her design so much that she took Nikki on as her assistant which Nikki describes as “the main factor and makes me want to continue to make art”.
Alongside Lady Pink, Nikki has traveled all around New York meeting other artists, “You get to make some amazing people and kids your age” she describes. She goes on to mention how her job with Lady Pink has given her the chance to travel to different parts of the world for the sake of spreading art and the messages behind each piece.
Nikki also has many works of her own, such as “Koi Pond” and “Headless” (pictured top right and bottom left). She says her motive to create “Headless” was to create a self portrait and she wants others to see that there is more than just the outside of people. Likewise she created “Koi Pond” because there is always a balance in everything and the calmness of it all helps portray the effect of balance. Although she says her favorite mural is on Unison 9 paradise lane because she was there for the entire process.
Although this is an opportunity many may not get, do not get discouraged if everything doesn’t happen overnight. “In the beginning it is all volunteer work. Lady Pink does yearly things in Ulster County.” Some things you can do are to “Volunteer at the o+ festival in Kingston, volunteer your services. There is window painting in New Paltz. Just volunteer your services for every opportunity that comes to you.”