SYCAMORE – Nicole “Nikki” Parlette would have turned 27 on Thursday, May 16.
“She had more creative spirit in her little finger than I do in my whole body,” said Susan Edwards, executive director of the Art Attack in Sycamore, where Parlette studied art and later became an art teacher, co-op artist and member of the advisory board.
Parlette’s sudden death on Christmas Day in 2012 stunned her family, friends and fellow artists, many of whom gathered for an art show, fundraiser and tribute at the Art Attack last Thursday. The event raised funds for the new Nikki Fund to grant scholarships to Art Attack students.
Parlette died of complications from a pelvic fracture sustained in a fall, her mother said.
“She knew how kids struggle sometimes and would love for kids who are struggling to be able to get help here at the Art Attack,” said Edwards. She said that art was the driving force of Parlette’s life.
“You’ve got artists who are artists because they have to be,” Edwards said. “Doing something else doesn’t work well with them.”
Parlette struggled to make a living as an artist although she gave most of her work away. She worked in almost every medium – oil, chalk, ink, charcoal, watercolor, sculpture and textiles, and often mixed media in her work.
Thursday’s event featured sidewalk chalk drawing, face painting and art projects for children, and an art show and sale for adults. Edwards led a balloon salute at the end of the evening.
Brooklynn Scott and Claire Thornburg, both seventh-graders at Sycamore Middle School, set up a table where they sold homemade jewelry to help support the Nikki Fund.
“She was about our age when she started coming here,” Brooklyn said.
Parlette’s mother, Susan Ward, said she realized when Parlette was small that she “saw the world differently.”
“It was beautiful and grand and precious, and never to be taken for granted,” she said. “If anything good can come of this, it would be that the public would recognize the talent that artists bring to the world.”