My current body of work explores and examines the plight of the culturally fractured inhabitants of the American landscape. This work involves my NÆ persona. NÆ’s musical allegories illustrate the cyclical dichotomies that white privilege contains. Through the use of multiple caricatures of white women, I investigate systemic entitlement, boredom, addiction, and over-consumption as a result of privilege. The various caricatures are flippant; dominated by an insatiable thirst for social status and personify the hapless results of aspirational lifestyle marketing.
NÆ’s 2021 release, the album Push Button Future, exposes these issues. In each song, NÆ is a caricature herself, one that desires luxury and positive perception. The way she consumes culture defines her. NÆ is a shopping addict with latent substance abuse issues who fills her time in destructive ways when she is bored. Virtual spaces like social media and online dating sites are enablers for her as she heedlessly experiences the vicissitudes of living in a technocracy from a place of privilege.
I present NÆ in music, music videos, live and virtual performances, virtual reality experiences, and immersive installations. I often exhibit NÆ in intimate spaces – both physical and virtual. These spaces and each NÆ performance within them engages viewers with the meaning of the songs by encouraging interaction. I have presented this work in interactive installation rooms, public library engagement events, art galleries, concert venues, in a video game, and on live-streaming platforms. Through interaction, I challenge the viewer/listener to reflect upon their own status and power.
NÆ has been featured on VEVO, in Esthetic Lens Magazine, Woozy Magazine, the Chicago Tribune, Scapi Magazine, B-Squared Magazine, Buzz Music, Fierce and Fabulous Revolution, and she is a sponsored artist by Synth House Chicago. She has been interviewed on The Advance Your Art: From Artist to Creative Entrepreneur Podcast, The GenX Voice Podcast, The What the Punk?! Podcast, and DePaul University Radio. I have exhibited NÆ at Intersect Art Center (St. Louis), and at Parallax Labs (Chicago).
NÆ follows the lineage of artists Andy Warhol, Björk, Laurie Anderson, Barbara Krueger, St. Vincent’s Annie Clark, Ragnar Kjartansson, and Patti Smith who utilize music and/or a pop culture context for their work to enrich its meanings and make its concepts accessible to a large public audience. NÆ is an aspiring cultural icon – her music is an earnest pursuit of the pop music formula with a satirical take on the content.
As we approach a post-pandemic climate, checkered by revivified fascisms and political division, this new body of work that work surrounds NÆ addresses the troubling lack of self-awareness as a symptom of systemic entitlement.
With the launch of NÆ’s album Push Button Future, NÆ and her collaborator Blizz (Producer and Artist Ryan Black) introduced a monthly, live-stream concert series in 2021 called Saturnae: Orbital Ice Cream. In the fantastical narrative of Saturnae, the characters NÆ and Blizz have accepted the mission of being Ice Cream Ambassadors from Earth’s International Ice Cream Consortium (The IICC). Using their Music-Powered Spaceship (the MPS-88), they exchange Earthly science and culture in exchange for recipes from other planets in order to bring them back and help bolster Earth’s own retail economy.
Saturnae: Orbital Ice Cream incorporates interviews with experts from various fields in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM), and other areas of scientific research including academics in sociology, psychology, philosophy, and cultural studies, as well as featured guest musical artists. Contag and Black have equipped their studio as a live streaming set, including multiple cameras, green screen effects, and they incorporate handmade arts & crafts scenes. In their show, they embrace the technology of today combined with the DIY aesthetic of early sci-fi films. Saturnae: Orbital Ice Cream is educational, humorous satire, and features both improvisation and original music.
The NÆ body of work began in 2015, and various works are listed below, with descriptions. From 2016-2019, NÆ was a core collaborator with the artist collective Black’s Backbone where she worked on a live, interactive performance series, interactive art installations, and educational outreach. The collaborative produced original video games and a performance series presented at the Wilmette Theatre in Illinois in 2019. They also demonstrated the original video games from the performances for educational outreach programming at Maker Fest at the Wilmette Library, Steam Fair at The Palatine Library, and the Brandel Library at North Park University.
Since late 2019, NÆ‘s focus has shifted to defining her persona, brand, and music – and the future immersive contexts where she might present her work at a larger scale.
The OFFICIAL NÆ WEBSITE is the public-facing presentation of NÆ’s brand.
You can learn more about NAE Thought Music here.
You can learn more about First Contact by Black’s Backbone here.
You can learn more about Strip! The Original Strip Mall Shopping Video Game here.