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Nykoli Koslow, based in Milwaukee, WI, employs an array of mediums, including painting, drawing, installation, video, and VR, to create a universe anchored in queer maximalism and alien semiotics. His work weaves together elements of abstraction and figuration, serving as a conduit for expressing the trans* experience within a queer, mythic cosmology. Drawing inspiration from personal narratives and a rich tapestry of influences, spanning mythology, religion, conspiracy theories, mysticism, and sci-fi, Nykoli's work immerses itself in the narratives that mold our world. Through the art of world-building, Nykoli poses the essential questions: 'What stories have shaped the world we inhabit today, and what stories can we craft to foster a more inclusive and liberated existence?


Nykoli earned his BFA in 2013 from the University of Milwaukee-Peck School of the Arts. Since then, he has exhibited his work in various venues in and around Milwaukee, including 'Translucent: A Transgender Empowerment Exhibition' at the Union Art Gallery in 2018 and the Museum of Wisconsin Art's '10 at 10' exhibition in 2023. In the years 2021-2022, Nykoli served as the Artist in Residence at the Pfister Hotel (Milwaukee, WI), culminating in the solo exhibition Queer Mythologies: TransAbstractions, at The Gallery Space in the Saint Kate Arts Hotel (Milwaukee, WI) in 2022. His work is part of permanent collections, including the Pfister Hotel Legacy Collection and the North Western Mutual Art Program. In 2023, Nykoli was accepted into the fall cohort of the gener8tor Art X Sherman Phoenix Accelerator. Currently, Nykoli is represented by Var Gallery in Milwaukee, WI, where he recently had his solo exhibition 'Queer Cosmology: The Making of A Universe' in 2023.


My work transforms the trans* experience into a queer mythos and cosmology through world-building. Spinning my own myths, I re-envision a religion and culture that places trans* people as deities and gods and queerness as the norm. This realm, anchored in queer maximalism (abundancies) and alien semiotics, offers me a sanctuary for authentic liberation—a place to embrace the strange and unwieldy. 


Growing up queer in the 90s and attending conservative Christian schools inspired my practice of world-building as a form of escapism. In my current studio practice, I reflect the trauma of Christianized America back onto itself, with myself and my created worlds serving as unintended byproducts of today's religious fervor. Through paint, I transform the backwards morals of Christian Nationalism into a kinky playground, and their binary hate into a celebration of chromaphilia. 


As an autoethnographic artist, my paintings blend personal experiences with historical research to create narratives that intertwine the lives of trans* individuals, myth, and religion. The pivotal moments of my nonlinear transition - the dysphoria, euphoria, and social dispositions - sprout a pantheon of trans* deities who parallel my journey and become extensions of my identity. 


These trans* deities inhabit a universe where the very concept of 'queer,' drawing from its etymological roots, signifies the odd, the bent, and the twisted, challenging conventional lines and norms. By redefining moral, physical, and social laws, I forge an ideology that is endlessly fluid and adaptable—a space where I can continuously recreate my truth and reimagine my existence. This process allows me to insert myself into a narrative that has often excluded trans* people, affirm my identity in the face of opposition, and conceive of new futures once deemed impossible." 

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