February 4th, 2024

“A way that makes my heart feel like it’s flying,”
Diptych, 54×54 inches combined
Acrylic and mixed media on panel


  • Artist Status: Nina is an established artist who lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
  • Price: Her original pieces range from $7-15k depending on size; monotypes/prints run around $1k.
  • Where can I see her work? Nina is represented by multiple galleries in cities including Houston, Dallas, and Los Angeles. She will be in a solo exhibition in Park City in March 2024.

Nina Tichava (born 1973) is a New Mexican painter and artist known for her pattern-based, abstract paintings that allude to geometric and organic forms. She received her BFA in Painting and Drawing from California College of the Arts [+ Crafts] (2003) and is a recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award Grant (2007). She was raised in both rural northern New Mexico and the Bay Area in California. She was influenced by her father, a construction worker and mathematician, and by her mother, an artist and designer.

Nina has gained recognition for her large-scale paintings, often diptychs, that layer patterns, geometric elements, and natural forms to inspire a dialogue between digital and analog design and memory. Hand-painted screens of dots she refers to as “Pixels” and stripes combine with abstract brush strokes and painterly details.

Terni 66-74/Aster Leaf, Penny + Grass, 9 Monotypes, 2023, Nina Tichava, Etching ink on paper, each monotype is 11 x 14 in

Her Style

Nina started painting seriously at California College of the Arts [+ Crafts] in Oakland in the mid-1990s. Embracing coastal influences in color, as well as the 70s Pattern and Decoration Movement, her painting progressed after art school into a distinct abstraction style rooted in natural forms. “I’ve never felt truly comfortable with pure abstraction,” she says. “I like having something to ground the painting in a more material way, to have a place to begin and then build from.”  She cites influences ranging from Richard Diebenkorn to Matthew Barney to Andy Warhol. The painters she looks at include Laura Owens, Alice Neel, Mark Rothko, Helen Frankenthaler, and Philip Guston.Her work today is in the lineage of New Mexican artists, building on traditions set by Georgia O’Keefe and Agnes Martin, as well as local craft, including sculpture, jewelry, and pottery. Her mother worked as a weaver in Northern New Mexico, and that inherited sensibility of fabric and texture is evident in Nina’s work.

“If the stars were edible, and our hearts were never full,” 2022, Nina Tichava, Acrylic, ink, graphite, pen, paper collage and brass on panel, 60 x 90 in

Contemporary Context

To get up close to Nina’s paintings is to have a tactile experience of them as much as to see them. She often blurs the line between craft and art. In her work, she builds a painting through multiple layers and different textures, such as small nails or lacquer, rather than approaching a painting as just a depiction of an image or idea. Critical to her pieces—particularly in a time where artificial intelligence (AI) can now generate masterworks as a digital image in minutes—is the lived experience of being with her work as an object. The uneven textures of her surfaces catch light and create new glimpses in ever-changing ways, revealing new portals and evoking new feelings. The work above, from a distance, has the look and texture of a hand loomed fabric.  She considers herself as much an object-maker as a painter—remembering a time, like many in her generation, when the constant inundation of digital imagery had not yet flooded our senses.ImpactNina’s work has been shown in galleries across the West and is in several prominent collections, including the Oppenheimer Family Collection, City of Seattle Permanent Collection, and the Harcos-Huneke Collection.

This blog post was contributed by Cat New. Thanks again Cat!