Nicole Moan’s ceramic corsets defy genre and expectations for wearable fashion.
Both an artist and a designer, Nicole Moan isn’t easily shoehorned into either box. Instead, her ceramic creations take many forms, from custom tile to plant pots and everything in between. Her signature craft is the wearable ceramic corset, a marvel that marries her presence in art and fashion. Her custom corsets have been displayed in museums and worn on runways, such as her February fashion show at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
Born into a family of artists, Moan was undertaking creative endeavors from a young age. She’s gone from helping her parents paint murals as a kid to sculpting sizable ceramic murals in the city, one of them standing at over 1,000 square feet. We met with Moan to talk about her varying artistic media and trailblazing work in wearable fashion.
How did you come up with the idea for ceramic corsets?
I’ve never really wanted to be like anybody else; that’s one thing that I have never wanted to be. I like to be unique and think for myself.
I needed something to wear to an event a long time ago — 25 years ago. I was married to my husband at the time, and I asked him if I could make ceramic corsets for us to wear, and he kind of giggled at me. The first ones were really just one piece with fabric that held it together. After that, I went back to the drawing board, and I figured out different ways to make it more adjustable, where it could fit all different sizes and where it would just be more comfortable.
What’s your process like? Does it take a while?
It really depends on the piece. Some pieces are really extravagant, so they take a long time. Some of them I’ve been pining up the passion for a while, so I can create it really quickly. A lot of my latest pieces, the most recent ones I’ve been creating, are really extravagant. They’re more show pieces instead of just trying to create a corset. I’m trying to create something red-carpet-worthy or museum-worthy.
How would you describe your work?
I basically want to catch people’s attention and have them ask, “What is that?” If someone’s wearing it, I want them to feel special and unique and like they’re a walking piece of art. Whenever it’s my tile work, I really want people to run their fingers over it and feel the texture. I always try to put little hidden messages deep down inside so people can see what it is.
Would you consider yourself an artist or a fashion designer when it comes to your corsets?
I wish it was intertwined, but it really is not, because whenever I go to galleries they say, “You’re too fashion,” and whenever I go to fashion they tell me I’m “too art.” So, I’m walking this line, and I’ve been walking this line for 25 years. They have nowhere to stick me. I’m kind of the diamond in the rough, hopefully.
Do you take any inspiration from the city or Oklahoma in your work?
Here, because I’m with these beautiful sunsets and sunrises, a lot of my pieces have the cotton-candy colors, like the pinks and the oranges and the yellows. It’s got the rich colors running through it. I really feel like a lot of the sunrises and sunsets really do affect my inspiration because every morning I wake up to see it. And then also meeting other people, because we’re packed full of so many creative people here, and opportunities.
Do you think that you found what you’re passionate about?
I feel like people ask me if I truly feel like I’ve found my thing all the time, and I think I have. I love it. It’s definitely been an uphill battle getting respect. You know, I didn’t go to school and get my master’s and bachelor’s in art. I did it in engineering because I was trying to set myself on a different path, but it came right back. I think the wearable ceramic corsets are definitely who I am and what I have made.
Nicole Moan’s work can be found in OKCMOA, DNA Galleries, JRB Art at the Elms and 108 Contemporary in Tulsa. Her pieces can also be purchased online at nicolemoan.storenvy.com.