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November 22, 2005 > Introducing Nikki Boudreau

Introducing Nikki Boudreau

by Arathi Satish

It is always interesting to meet impressive people. Nikki Boudreau definitely fits in to this category. She is an accomplished artist and a senior at Washington High School in Fremont who formed an art club and served as its president, works with the city of Fremont's teen services, serves as a youth advisor with the Fremont Cultural Arts Council and is an editor for the school's newspaper. All of this stems from her disillusionment at the lack of local events, classes and support for her talent. So she took matters into her own hands and created her own opportunities.

Nikki began drawing and painting at age five, but her art surpassed the role of a childhood hobby and became a medium for her to understand and communicate with others.

During her early teen years, Nikki felt disappointed and isolated with finding avenues to express her art. "Living in a city that possesses neither a culturally-oriented main street nor a performing center only added to my sense of disconnection."

Even though she received encouragement from home she felt that it did not compensate for the increasingly narrow focus on academics at school. "After some time, I grew tired of my loneliness and the common teenage complaint of that there's 'nothing to do' in Fremont. I decided to make something happen."

The conviction to do something brought Nikki out of her shell. Mr. Elkin, her art teacher was one of the first to tell her she could really do something with her art. During her sophomore year she started to reach out by forming an art club at the school. During the first two years of the club, she served both as vice president and then president. The club meetings revealed a budding display of raw art ability. Nikki feels that it now boasts "some of the most concentrated talent in the area." The club is a safe heaven for a wide range of students for critiquing each other's work and forming like-minded friendships.

Soon Nikki began looking at the school community outside of her art club and realized that her fellow artists played only minor roles in popular school activities. During Spirit Week at the start of her junior year, she took the double responsibility of serving as both her class's spirit week skit narrator and backdrop designer. She also oversaw work on the school's major drama production, Guys and Dolls.

Then she took the next step and began to look beyond her school's art activities and to that of her city's when she contacted Fremont Teen Activities director, Rena Dein. She sent her an email complaining of the infrequency of local teen band nights. "I offered to make visually attractive flyers to draw a larger crowd. For my illustrations, I chose a common subject of my art: strong women figures. Sadly, local and mainstream rock music alike are male dominated realms, and the female imagery is often hurtful and demeaning. Rather than being docile sexual objects, the women on my posters are the ones shouting music and sporting studded jackets and Mohawks." This activity soon led to flyers for a variety of establishments, including the Olive Hyde Art Gallery in Fremont and Hayward's Sun Gallery.

Since then she has had a number of creative collaborations with Rena, one of the most notable one being the Manga Art Expo, Fremont's first gala teen art event held last April. A number of integral aspects of the event, such as the acoustic band set and a live mural painting activity were ideas produced from their brainstorming sessions. The Expo, according to Nikki, was a very successful event for vendors and attendees alike and drew everyone from young school children to their parents.

The most important outcome for Nikki herself was meeting Margaret Thornberry, the president of the Fremont Cultural Arts Council. Margaret, impressed by her poise, asked her to be the new Youth Advisor for FCAC. Nikki has impressive plans for the future, "As FCAC Youth Advisor, I want to create a unified community for teen artists. I was alone for many years before I finally found other teen artists by starting an art club at school. I have a few specific goals. Firstly, I want to establish a monthly, multi-media teen art night. I also want to improve the local East Bay Blend band night." She is currently working with professional artist Blaine Fontana on a design for a mural that she wants to be paint either at her school or elsewhere in Fremont. "Lastly, I want to create some kind a website, newsletter, or magazine that will connect teen artists. I want the work of teen artists to get recognition and support and for the artists themselves to have an opportunity to meet others who share their interests."

Currently, Nikki is working on a comic about the tradition of bride-napping in Kyrgyzstan. She plans to use her skills in both art and writing to tell stories that need to be heard and to raise awareness of certain issues. One of her ideas is to compile a graphic novel that deals with different personal and political issues about women from all over the world.

Apart from visual arts, she enjoys being a reporter and page editor for her school newspaper. She is interested in alternative music, especially older bands from the 70s and 80s such as the Clash, X Ray Spex, and Siouxsie and the Banshees. Her plan is to study fine arts, journalism and women's studies in college.

It is hard to believe that she was once a bored and lonely teenager when you hear her speaking positively about her future and realize the amount of work she has done. That sense of self-motivation and community sets her apart from other teenage artists and makes her stand out in a crowd. She is indeed an inspiring figure and role model for other teens with a promising future ahead.

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