Nikita Ares, a Seattle-based painter, worked Tuesday, March 30th to install her first exhibition since the start of the pandemic at the newly opened Museum of Museums on First Hill. 

“We’ve all had such a hard year,” she says. “I want to bring joy to people.”

During lockdown, Ares created more than 40 colorful, acrylic-on-canvas paintings from a home studio. She conveys feelings and scenes from her memories growing up in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines — from the sounds of laughter, birds and fiestas — to how the sun and wind move through the Northern Mindanao landscape. 

“I want that energy from where I’m from to be shared to everybody else,” she says. “It brought me a lot of joy growing up there and I wanted to portray that through my work.” 

Ares said recent news events have brought about mixed emotions while preparing for her show. She has felt hopeful seeing some progress in ending the pandemic, but has grieved the recent Atlanta shootings and escalating attacks on Asian Americans. 

“I hope the art helps people to heal, as much as it healed me making it,” she says.

Ares’ show, held in conjunction with The Factory gallery, will be open to the public April 1 to April 25 in The Kitchen — a section of Museum of Museums dedicated to popups, markets and weekend-only art shows. Ares’ show will be free and open to the public April 8, during the Capitol Hill Artwalk, with 50% reduced capacity.

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