First Cut

Submitted by Nicole Mueller



Location: Rockville, MD, United States

Completion date: 2016

Project Team


Nicole Mueller


Susan Main

Installation Support

Frank McCauley


For this installation, Nicole Mueller uses colored window films and spray paint to create a modern abstract immersive collage and multicolored “stained glass” effect that transforms the space from the inside out. Transparent materials allow the building to function like a lightbox at night and for the light to move and shift with the sun’s movements throughout the day, casting colored shadows on the floor and walls. This piece is approx. 15’ x 45’ ft. in dimension, and was part of Nicole Mueller’s 2016 solo exhibition “First Cut” at VisArts in Rockville, Maryland.


This piece represents the artist’s first “stained glass” window installation, using colored film and natural light to cast shifting shapes across the gallery space.

In this temporary window activation, Mueller wanted to transform light that naturally flooded the gallery space throughout the day by infusing it with vibrant color.

The exhibition “First Cut” included a series of works exploring collage as both medium and metaphor. The title refers to the latent potentiality in painting; the earliest stages of process where nothing is static or fixed, and the sense of anticipation surrounding those initial marks or cuts. 

“First Cut” also refers to the part of the process in film editing that establishes the structure and flow of a narrative, where the scenes are roughly organized though open to change.

The works aimed to draw parallels between animation and abstraction—which both simplify, exaggerate, and select from reality—while further emphasizing painting's unique and defining relationship between surface and space. They include moments of punctuation, sometimes comically loud or abrupt, colliding colors and shapes, and depict a world of continuous convergence, dissipating boundaries, and in celebration of paradox.