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On today's episode, we have painter and muralist Nico Cathcart joins us for a conversation about advocating for yourself and living with a disability in the artistic world. Together we talk about recognizing what's within our control, the importance of anchors, and the inequities of the public art world.


How are you doing today?

I'm doing great. Today after I'm done with this podcast it's my first day off in two weeks.

Oh my God what have you been doing in last two weeks 

This week I've been working on this monster commission back here and then catching up with everything that I miss while I was gone. I did Art Basel down in Miami, which is like a week a half of just pure insanity. I did two walls in six days.

Oh wow 

That's like literally all of the people. So, it was kind of nuts this year. I think everybody went a little crazy 'cause last year was cancelled.

So, like compensating for that lack of a year of art?

Yeah, are you familiar with what Art Basel is?

No, tell me about it. 

It’s down in Miami Beach, and there's a bunch of art fairs. There are international art fairs, so the best of the best galleries in the entire world all come to Miami for this week. And, then the street art scene has like this whole place in Wynwood, which is like a neighborhood over the bridge in Miami where like the best of the best street artists come. So, it's absolute insanity like everybody there is from the art world everybody has like you know their own thing going on, and you just kind of it's one of those things you hit the ground running and you don't stop. 

Yeah, OK so is this something that you're invited to?

Yeah, I did a mural festival called A Wall mural festival, which is part of the Art Basel thing but like art Basel is like a million art events that aren’t actually affiliated. You know what I mean?

Sure, yeah!

So, it is a public art initiative that goes into the schools of Miami and kind of says hey let's you know give the kids something cool. We have this great event happening let's bring like international level artists to come paint the schools. So, I did a school called Arvida elementary in Miami, which is a little outside of the Wynwood area, but the kids were all amazing. I can tell that it was like affecting their day-to-day life. I did a big three-story mural there of a Cuban American woman who has ties to Miami. It was like an ocean conservation piece. Yeah, so that was huge I did that in six days, and I had a little bit of help like rolling out the first colors, but mostly just me. But, then when I finished with that and like a little overlapping, I worked with Few and Far Women, which is an international all women paints collective that comes out in graffiti. And they invited me to take part in this large mural collaboration right in Lynnwood on 5th Ave in Miami. They had 37 women from all over the world painting all at the same time on the same thing. So, I did that, and I kind of did that mural like 12 hours. Then hit up all the art fairs and started working.

Crazy! Could you tell me like what is the normal amount of time it takes to finish a piece like that? 'cause I have no sense of like what I would expect for hours wise to do something like this?

It kind of depends on necessity. Usually, I like to take a lot more than that. The one for Few and Far I had known that I had a huge one with Awall, so I was like give me a small piece. So, that one is like 8 feet by 8 feet. That one is really small. So, the 12 hours is not bad. The Awall one, which is three stories and like 60 feet wide, usually I’d like to take two weeks to do that, but I took six days.

Oh my God wow!

So yeah, you do what you need to when you're in that circumstance.

Yeah, but it sounds like you're well known within the community and getting invited to very prominent events.

Well, I don't know about that it's a big world but 

I'm gonna bid you up I mean come on you said these are the best of the best and it's an invitation thing

It's been it's been interesting year for me. I've done a lot more on the road than I ever have so I'm really grateful and like humbled for the opportunities.

Yeah for sure!

Yeah like being invited to Basel like the day that that happened when they reached out and said hey we got a wall for you…. I'm like I'm not cool enough like… interrupted my husband and his work meeting, and I was like I’m going to Basel! He’s like, that’s nice but I don’t know what that means.

Yeah, but to you it's everything!


That's amazing. Have you integrated what that means to you as an artist?

 I haven't yet I'm working on it. I’m working on it. I think that the project is such a really cool way to get started with that scene. That was not the central like thing that was happening in that week, but I feel like that's one of the more impactful things because it went into the community.  I superlove projects that take the community into perspective when putting themselves together because my industry can be used or gentrification so easily. Big developers can throw money at you and make it look like it's local right, so being involved with something like Awall is really important to me. As an artist, I feel like I have a connection to the community and that I'm not just trying to like you know white wash their walls. You know?

Yeah yeah! 'Cause this is the one that was with the kids, right?

So, they didn't really help me, but they did come out and talk to me. The best moment of that wall had nothing to do with paint. So, I'm deaf and I'm talking to you with hearing aids in here and a little microphone. So that makes it hard for me to be painting and for people to talk to me. You know? Usually people can talk to you when you're working, and I need to turn around and look at you. So, I came down like towards the end of the mural, and this little girl came and like tugged on my shirt and said,  “I heard your deaf. I sign. She said, “thank you for the beautiful art.” And, I just like 

Yeah, of course!

Something like that was really cool for me to like be able to experience you know.

Yeah, and for that little girl to be able to look up to you!

It was so like.. I don't have words for it. It was really endearing yeah. And, at the moment like going through these like public things that I do as a deaf person it's really difficult because you know you go to these parties with all these like really great connections and everybody can have like casual conversation. And, I can't so I'm kind of like grasping at straws so being able to have that moment with this little girl who's like really attempting to reach out and communicate because I'm deaf is beautiful.

Yeah, that's so profound! Would you be willing to say more about that difficulty in public spaces and how you navigate that?

Absolutely, it's kind of become a little bit more defining. I sound to anyone listen to this… I probably don't sound deaf because I'm a late deafened adult. I have genetic condition that basically my cochlea is balding. Your cochlea is the little snail thing in your inner ear that has little hairs. Sound really just vibrates those little hairs and that sends an electrical signal to your brain and that is what makes it hear. Mine just isn't doing that anymore. I communicate usually through like lipreading, but I'm learning to sign. And, I'm learning to sign because it's become increasingly difficult because this is a degenerative thing. I’ve got about 30% of my hearing. Hearing aids are great. Love them. Great technology, but they don't give you back everything. It's not like they're like glasses, you know? For glasses you get 2020, but you put on hearing aids and it just amplifies that 30%. The technology is great and like pitch shifts now. So, if it’s close to my range.. there is computer read out to my hearing aids that will shift it into my range. But, there are things like birds at my work a lot, and I can’t hear them. And, even with my hearing aids, I can’t hear them. So, that just makes casual conversation really difficult. When you work in like the arts.. some of it is based on your talent, but a lot of it is about like how you navigate you know the world like how you make connection. It's rarely like a lone wolf sitting in the room creating brilliant art. You can do that but nobody will ever know about it. So, I get put in these situations like Basel where you're going to art openings and all these things with like people that are also working with your community. And, you just find these moments where you just like I like to call it like Charlie Brown moments. Like you know somebody is talking to you and you get the noise but to me it’s like I'm underwater or something, so that creates weirdness where like you say something out of place and people are like what? You'll just kind of smile laughing along, and I think that's a common experience for people with hearing loss of any kind of stage. And, the worse it gets, the more I realized that I need to be able to sign because it's just easier to do.

Yeah, certainly certainly! Yeah that’s a lot to navigate I feel like in that moment of trying to connect with someone and holding that difficulty of being not being able to hear but also wanting to be there… knowing the implications that it does have for your career and your networking.

Right! Right! And, it's just harder to be like just kind of like off the cuff. Like you need to plan more and you need to like kind of set yourself up with success as much as possible. People don't always understand that your brain is like usually occupied with that part. They're having a good time and you’re just kind of stressed out wondering if you said the right thing. It's just a thing that I think a lot of people don't realize especially with hearing loss in particular because you look normal. You have an invisible disability, and it's so easy to just ignore that in a person.

Yeah yeah 'cause from the outside, they wouldn't know that in your head you were going through all these different worlds and all these different focuses and all this stuff that you have to hold to show up in the way that you wanna show up.

Absolutely absolutely! And, it's just like living in this like fear that you're going to miss something a lot and you do… and you just have to kind of move past that. You know? 

Yeah, how does it feel to be in that space?

It can be really really lonely and dark sometimes to tell you the truth, but I think that living with a disability is about your attitude. Keep yourself positive and motivated and it won't win cause there's nothing really wrong with me, I'm just different but when other people don't see that it can be really isolating.

Yes, do you have a community of people that you feel like can see you in that full identity?

I think it's hard for other people to like fully understand. I do have a couple of people that I talk to you within the creative community that are also deaf in different ways and we travel in different circles but sometimes I just have to take a step back and be like does this happen to you? And then like the online community is really great because you know you can through Instagram and YouTube you can have conversations with these people that you might not be having face to face conversations with but so you can like feel like other people are going through it. And, that’s been helping. My dad is also deaf, so I’ve got that.

Right, exactly to have that those people that can understand you in that. I can imagine how valuable that is asking that question does this happen to you? Is this normal?

Right right! I like sometimes calling my mom. My mom is a hearing person but deals with my deaf father a lot. So she sees a lot of stuff that I've witnessed in my day to day. You know things.. I can just be like “do people do this to dad ?” like talk over you or just you know.. and she’s just like, “Oh yeah! That happens all the time. And, I’m like “ thank god it’s not just me.” yeah! 

Yeah yeah, feeling that community in those moments. I love what you said about living with a disability.. how it’s all about your attitude.

I think it is. It's really easy to let the unfairness feeling like take over. I'm totally guilty of that. No one goes through disability without frustration. And, I try to tell myself that. My partner is really good at telling me like hey, you're doing all this stuff but like that people in your work community want to do and you're doing it with this big disability that no one sees. Remember that.  If I go into it with that, then you know I'm giving the best I can to the situation.

Of course! Were there times where you felt like you were really stuck in that headspace of focusing on the unfairness of it?

I think everybody gets stuck in that sort of thing.  I can't know what everybody's experience with disability is but sometimes it's just you know… you're sitting in that party and you're looking at all these people that you should you have so much in common with and that you should be able to talk to you and it's just too loud and no one no one will make that extra stop for you and you're just kind of sitting there and you're like just ah man that's just this is the person I really want to talk to. And, I think it's really easy in those moments like to just get lost in that kind of isolation. And, I'm sure that happens to everyone who has disability, and it's really just a game of getting from that place and an OK place and knowing that it's not you.

How did you go between those two places?

It helps when you have an anchor. I think my anchor is definitely my partner, so I'll be in those places … and usually when I'm in those places I'm far from home because I'm I've gotten myself in that situation. I'm sitting and it's almost always some sort of bar or party or like industry thing. And, I'm just like I said something and have been misunderstood and I'll just get my phone out to text my partner like just saying something nice right now, and he’ll do that. I'm learning to do that for myself, but it always helps to have an anchor in the world. 

Oh of course I feel like there's so much pressure that we have to be able to self soothe on our own all the time… that we need to be able to control all of these emotions and be perfectly capable of handling them and like,… yes to some degree that is a good point we don't want to be codependent, but equally it's so so good and normal to lean on the important people that see you fully in who you are in those moments to feel that connection and community.

Yeah yeah! I think we're living in a time that there's a lot of like unprocessed and difficult things. To have a disability in the middle of these things it's just you know it's extra yeah like we were dealing with like a collective trauma of a pandemic and you know everybody is on edge because of that.. you add on something.. you know. Have you heard of the spoon theory?

 No no, and I am ready for you to tell me.

I cannot tell you the exact person that came up with it, but I've read about it in psychology. People that deal with chronic disability, and specifically this one was about chronic pain. So it's like you start your day with a certain amount of spoons, right? And, then like you know maybe you know it hurts to get out of bed, so that takes a spoon. You have to talk to someone on the phone. That takes a spoon, and then you run out of spoons and then at that point you're completely emotionally depleted.  And, I often talk to people about my disability in terms of those spoons, you know? Cause if you take my known plan away, you’re taking a spoon.. you know? That's a good way to like talk about processing these things.

Yeah, definitely yeah. I think it's so fascinating that we live in a society I think where we imagine that our brains are kind of like computers, where we just have this ultimate capacity to hold so many different things.. so many different tabs all at once and multitask right? But, I think there's this painful reality that our brains can only hold so much at a given time.. kind of like these spoons, right? like you start with a set amount and that is what you can hold today.

Yeah yeah, I think I think you got those 87 tabs open and if you open the 88nd tab in your computer, it’s definitely gonna crash.

Exactly exactly! And, we keep thinking that we can be that person that has all these different things of life all these different relationships… all these different things we're processing… I'm totally fine with 89 tabs, you know? Like totally fine but that is not realistic. 

God well we're all like that dog cartoon like of that dog in the fire.

Why is that the meme of our time? Like that is not good but that is how we all relate to one another.

Yeah, whoever drew that comic knew something.

Yeah, I actually was walking once and I saw the dog in a window. There was like a plush version of the dog, like I didn't know that meme had made it out into other forms of art, but that has made it out.

Exactly yeah! It’s fine.

And, I think it's so we have to come back to the reality that we can only hold so much, and I think we see this in different facets depending on what you're focusing on. And, living with a disability takes a certain amount of spoons that need to be dedicated to taking care of yourself and what you need specifically for your health and benefit, you know?

It's been a challenge and in the last little bit as my career gets you know a little bit more on solid grown it affects more.

Would you be willing to share how it's been a challenge for you?

I mean it's really the same thing we were just talking about just like missing those connections and you know maybe not responding in the correct way to things when you're out in public especially when you're in situations where there's masks it's like there’s no chance of communicating at that point. It's learning sign language but knowing that almost no one in my field will know it. So I can learn to speak it, but if no one speaks it to me, it's not that helpful, in my career. So, it's kind of dealing with ableism of my field.

 Yes definitely! And, I didn't even think about the mask piece which makes lip reading so much harder! Oh yeah the first couple months of the pandemic on deaf people were like wow. 

Yeah that's definitely an ableist thing to not even think about that level of complexity that is within this larger dynamic of the pandemic.

I mean there's so much that it affects people in different ways but deaf people definitely had a hard time. So it took me a long time to figure out that I could connect my hearing aids to zoom. And, an even longer time to realize that there were subtitle apps that I could use to make this kind of communication even possible. So the first like couple of weeks when everyone was going to zoom parties and stuff. And,  I definitely did that and then went yeah I can't be part of it. 

It also sounds like there are so many strengths in your journey… like so many times where you have connected back to yourself of what you need in those moments and having the creativity to yeah embrace your different needs and advocate for yourself when you need to.

It's a skill that I've had to learn. It’s really easy for me to like fade into the background 'cause that's kind of how you’re raised as a woman, you know? You're like you don't… don't cause a lot of trouble. So, I've been learning a lot about removing myself from those situations and then just saying you know.. this is not for me.

Yeah, how do you do that? Can you say more? I think that is such a powerful thing of not easing into the background.

Honestly it's really just learning to have the strength to tell people that you have that disability.. like constantly. It's not something that comes easy. It kind of feels like, although I know I'm not broken, it kind of feels like that's what I'm saying over and over again.. just stopping a conversation and saying, “I'm sorry I'm not understanding.” I say that 90 times a day. I'm just asking to rephrase. Usually my brain is really good at getting out what's going on. If I you just say it in a different way, I could usually get it. So, I've just had to be able to say that and then there's times where like I'll be on like a call like this and not understand. And I’m like, “I'm so sorry. Can we like speak in over email or over text? I'm really happy to talk to you, but this is not functioning very well for me. Then hoping that they don't get angry. 

Yeah, but there's so much power in that advocating for yourself.

I mean it feels nice when people like realize that now well maybe I should stop calling. I get a lot of people that do phone calls still, and there's no way I can answer the phone call. Because I'm considered disabled, the government gave me a phone that does talk to text, which is … I've got an interpreter that will like type out with person says, but it takes so long to do that it's really awkward. So, I just have to like train people, like you wanna talk to me? That's great! I'm happy to talk to you via email or text. I’m here for you.

Yes, exactly exactly and then in that you both get what you need out of that communication, and you feel like you're able to fully show up once you advocate for yourself properly.

Right, there was a long time that I would try and sit through those phone calls and then doing the traditional, I think anyone who’s deaf knows this, the traditional head nod. Smiling yeah yeah yeah, but what’s going on? 

Yeah, what made you switch?

I think I think it was honestly just missing information like not realizing I was supposed to be at this place at this time because I just didn't get that information. That person did convey it to me. It's not their fault that they didn't understand how bad my hearing loss is, and it’s not really my fault for not hearing it, but it is under my control to be able to control how that information exchange happens.

Right right, I love that reframe I mean there's so much of our life that is completely out of our control, right? I mean so many things even beyond the disability of just this life that we live in that we cannot control and to bring it back to what we can focus on is advocating for yourself saying this is what I need here and focusing back our control to those smaller variables that we can change is so powerful.

Yeah yeah, and like I still live in this  worry that I'll lose opportunity because of it, but I just kind of have to like you know and maybe that wasn't the opportunity if they can’t respect me enough to understand that I cannot show up like that. 

Exactly exactly, and those are maybe not the people that you want to be in relationship with if that's what they are, and at the same time I mean you equally have unique opportunities that other people will never understand that moment with that girl that came up to you and that connection.

Yeah that's a beautiful thing, and I think it's important for people who live with deafness.. like I sat in a meeting recently somebody asked me why they thought there was a more deaf people in the arts, and I went said it’s really hard to get in this. You don't know that you can even do it. I was privileged enough to be sort of hearing when I started, but someone who is born deaf doesn't have the opportunity to just go into the gallery and have a conversation with someone unless they have an interpreter. They need that extra thing. So, it's important I think for people to see deaf representation in the arts to realize that you could do it like.. seeing these new like movies. The Marvel movie had a deaf character in it and that's amazing. The actors who played it just did an interview in ASL where she said,  “you know when I was a kid, I didn't think I could do any of that because I was deaf.” It’s very important for like younger generations of disabled people just to know that you can do it. You're not burdened by this thing that isn’t work around-able. 

Right, definitely yeah I mean media is so so powerful to portray potential worlds that people could embody, right? And, so if you're a living through this world with a disability and not seeing yourself in all this media that's coming back… it's really hard to ever imagine you could be in that space. So, yeah you occupying this role within the arts community… you're a whole symbol to other people who I'm sure look up to you and the work that you do.

Thank you! I think it's like a double-edged thing with me I do you know because I'm disabled but I'm also a woman working in an incredibly inequitable industry, so just trying to like push forward is making a point. And, I think it is an important thing to do 

Yeah definitely. I mean those two identities definitely intercept being a woman and having a disability and that can create even more complexity in this dynamic of an art world that is so based on a lot of male power and networking.

Yeah, it's like there's a certain point of people that like just dismiss me just because I'm a female talking very loudly about female issues so you add deafness on top of that, yeah!

Yeah! How do they dismiss you? I'm so curious what is the bad that you're getting?

You know what I think a lot of it is… a passive dismissal if you know what I mean. When you look at like the lineups of the major gallery's, I think there's like 30% of those galleries are women like artists that are being represented. Art collections are mostly male right now. They're changing. They are starting to change, but when I was growing up … when I was that little girl…. I didn't learn about a woman artist, you know what I mean? And, the art world works very similarly. We'll have like maybe one woman in the lineup, now that's not everybody but the very big powers with all the money select that.

Yeah, they have a lot of control to choose who gets to be represented to the world.

 And, I think like people will often say well art like you know that doesn't sell and I say, well 'cause you don't sell it.

Oh, yeah yeah! They have talked about in film how that was something that was happening where like originally when film was getting really popular all of the genres were very male focused because they didn't feel like a female audience was there to buy and pay for tickets to go to the movies ,and so they just skipped out on this whole genre and this whole slew of people that would have connected with that. And, they're realizing that wow they're actually is a whole group of people now that they're trying to sell us with movies now. It still comes back to capitalism.

It works very similarly 'cause it's the same people in control of these decisions. Look at like public art. I do studio art and I do public. But, public art in particular is run by…. the people making decisions about what are going on those walls, with the exceptions of some festivals, are usually rich white people who are going with that old narrative that they are at the top. It's interesting to like navigate that industry and see the inequities like daily.

Yeah, how do we dismantle that? What do we do how do we destroy it? 

Honestly, I don't know that I have the answer to that, but I think part of it lies within the patrons of the art starting to question the decisions that are happening. People have a lot of power, and if people are you know looking for and actively supporting women artists or artists of color or artist with disabilities that speaks a lot. Galleries will listen up. Like if you see what happened like in New York with the Sackler family… people like were protesting and you know calling out that you know connection and it's made a difference. They pulled off the name of that family. So, people have a lot of power. Buying power and their support power really make a big difference within the art community. 

Yeah, wow! I think people forget that, how much power we have and what we support to actually make the change since they're truly trying to sell to us at the end of the day. 

Right so if you're like seeing new art going up on your block, and it's you know not addressing what's happening within the communities, speaking up is the only way they could do that. Or, asking for art of specific groups would be amazing.

How would someone ask or speak up for that?

I mean I think honestly you showing up to whoever is putting it on. Like you see someone starting like a fund raising project questioning who is being you know hired for this. You know? It's hard to do it, but you have to kind of seek out opportunities. And, it's different for each wall, but large developers are putting up walls, and you know the community can have a lot to say about that just by reaching out to them.

Yes, certainly! 'Cause I mean I live in Chicago, so there is just wall art all over the place. But, I, not being necessarily in that artistic community, I wouldn't even know the first place to start to even ask for a change in representation.. like I wouldn't even know what to Google to even find out who controls these sorts of things to even start pushing for a different change.

The community can talk to City Council. You can talk to your local representatives about like how is this being done.

Yeah, I didn't know about this. And, yeah I think that's an important piece of this like yeah where is the advocacy in this sort of thing? Like what can we do to make this change happen?

Right, I think a lot of artists are starting to wake up. I think with public art in particular, if you're working and not actively being vocal about representation about issues that matter, then you're kind of wasting that privilege that you have as a public artist. But, we can't do everything. Like first you gotta give us the walls. 

Right, exactly exactly! This is a community effort to be able to make this society better, right.

Right! Right, and like I try really hard and I'm not perfect, but it's quite really hard to make sure that everything I do means something. It's not just decoration. What I do is street art murals. It's an old old art .. the oldest art form really. The oldest art we have is drawing on cave walls, and it's always been the art of the people. It’s been an art of communication. And, art that gathers people, so you know trying not to be decorative it's really important to me.

Yeah, I know! And, I appreciate that, and I just want to say thank you for that work and to be so intentional in that. It’s a big honor to be able to chat with you and to get to hear that perspective. Right? Aw, thank you!

Yeah, so many people could just take that opportunity to have that wall, that chance, and use it for their own gain and you know push what sells to be able to make more money to have more security in this life. And, right yadda yadda? 


So, like for you to be actively going against that status quo and pushing for a better society that you believe in takes a lot of guts.

 It’s not an easy job. It’s a really fun job but it comes with a lot.

I know which is why I wanna say, thank you.

Thank you,

Yeah, of course. Yeah earlier you said, I take notes, you said a lot of other people in the community with disabilities might think that they can't even do what you do. And, I'm also thinking about that girl that came up to you. Is there anything that you would want to say to those people who might be listening?

Oh, absolutely! You can totally do it. It seems like it's a mountain that's hard to climb. Like you might need like a friend to help you from time to time, but it's totally a mountain you can climb. With my own disability, I still find myself in the middle of you know those parties that scare me. I just kind of have to tell myself I can get through this, and I can do it. And, you know somebody will help me. Somebody will have the empathy to understand like, OK. Let's just talk to the side here. Let's just exchange emails, and we'll talk later. You just gotta face your fear, and just do it!

Yes yes! And, once you face that fear and you're accepted and find that connection.. it gets a little bit easier I feel like each time to start stepping up and to embrace that. 

Yeah it does! It does! And, you're your own superhero I think when you're disabled because you have the experience of overcoming all these things and other people don't. Like they don't understand that feeling of you know, I have something that I did not do to myself and that made everything seem impossible, but I can just do this! I know I can do this!

Yes, I love that. That might have to be the title of that episode: you are your own superhero.

You are your own superhero! I think that's very important for everyone. People all have their own set backs, it’s not just being disabled, but people take away that feeling. But, you just kind of have to make it your reality. It's not an easy thing to do.

No, certainly! I mean none of this life we're going to experience… This life is full of pain, whether it be traumas that have occurred to you that were way outside of your control, different privileges that maybe you weren't you know given due to the like larger social systematic oppression that we have, or various things like a disability these things are super super painful. But, I think a lot of what you're talking about is bringing it back to the focus of what can you control, advocating for yourself, asking for what you need, and in that becoming your own superhero because you have that focus on what's within your power.

Absolutely absolutely! You just have to know yourself and know what you need to ask for. And, it's an ongoing thing you have to like be able to forgive yourself when you slip up a little and you find yourself in that situation where you're just totally lost. That's OK. You can do it next time.

Yeah yeah, I can definitely see why Keith wanted you to come on the show. 

Oh yeah? Keith is one of my favorite people. He came over for Thanksgiving. It was wonderful.

Oh yeah! He is such a good ball of energy! I love his perspective, and he also has such a positive outlook on life that I really appreciate.

He does! And, sometimes you know when things are really frustrating, just siting with Keith on my back deck and just like complaining about stuff. And, he's like yeah… but you know what, you got!

Yes yes yes!

He can be an anchor too.

Hell yeah! Yeah, I recorded with him during my semester at a lower point where I was just so stressed out. I was chatting with him, and I was like “I don't know if I can do this man. I don’t know.”

Like you can’t be unhappy, and talk to Keith.   


Yeah, exactly!

Yes, which is why I love that, and I love that energy. And, yeah I can see why he sees so much strength and beautiful things in you that yeah I just have had the pleasure of getting to see your world and your strength.  Thank you!

Thanks for having me on.

Of course, I do ask one question of everyone. And, I think it really reminds me of the question that you ask your mom about your dad, like does this happen to him as well? I ask everyone on the podcast what is one thing that you wish other people knew was more normal?

You know what I think I wish everybody knew.. that it’s normal to be going through your own private battles, and I think everybody is probably dealing with like a little war inside their head. And, they have their own stumbling blocks you know, and you might not know about it. And, I think everybody needs to know that's normal. And, also like as you're talking to a person be a little kind about that because you don't know what everybody is going through. Don't be so judgy if somebody seems like little they are ignoring you. Maybe they can't hear you. And, that’s totally normal.

Yes, I think that's one of the biggest things I'm learning as I continue in this field of psychology is that everyone is going through that internal battle of some sort or shape literally everyone.

I agree 

It's just all different facets of whatever someone is struggling with, and so if you can keep that in mind and recognize not to take things so personally when someone might respond in some way because they're going through their own world, their own world of things that they are processing. And, I'm going through my own world, and we do our best to manage those expectations in that time. 

I think that's really important to know. And, it's hard to know like as you're going through it.. like you don't understand that you know somebody else might have a need that's greater than your own comfort, you know? 


Have you ever heard that David Foster Wallace this is water speech? 

No, but I'm writing it down. I have time after this.

Yeah, it's one of my favorite things. While David Foster Wallace as a person has character flaws, this specific speech, which was given at commencement address actually.. but it was about learning empathy but also learning about life. You don't know what other people are going through. So, like you know you got really mad at that person who cut you off in traffic, but what you don't know is that’s a dad, and their son just split their head open and they're rushing to the hospital. And, their need to get ahead if you is greater than your need to get home. I've always tried to carry that with me ever since I read that. You have to remember that other people are people, and they might have issues that are greater than your own.

Right! And, even if they're not greater than your own to some degree….

It’s still valid!

Exactly! I think that's the biggest piece is that it's still valid because that's what their experiencing and I think that's super heavy to hold though when you might be going through this world with a disability, feeling like this is so much more real than your.. you know.. being late to a meeting that is causing you to act this way right. But to them, that's their world and it is so hard to hold that complexity of validness even though…

It’s like holding a bunch of like plates in your hand, and that's all!

Yes, exactly! It's hard! It’s hard, and it takes a lot of emotional…. it takes a lot of spoons….

See, I tell you spoons! I have to remember this. I think it was a psychologist that came up with it. It was a beautiful analogy for someone living with a disability of any kind.

Exactly, I really appreciate you sharing that! And, I wrote down that commencement speech. So, I’ll have to go watch it.

Yeah, my mom sometimes will just text me spoons, and I know what she means. Yeah, you know she's just done.

Yeah, I have ran out of spoons for today please check in tomorrow.


Well, this has been so lovely! I really appreciate you coming onto the podcast! Is there somewhere that you want to plug for people who want to see your art. I know you mentioned a lot of beautiful pieces. 

You can find my work all over the place. I really would love to tell you to check out Awall mural festival. They are constantly looking for money because it's a festival constantly run by artist for artist. And, I'm hoping I should be back next year, but they need some financial support. I’ll tell you to check out few and far women, which is the largest all women paint crew in the world. For me, my Instagram is just my name, Nico Cathcart, and you can catch up with what I do there. You can find my work and actually in Beijing China for art for the people, which is done by US embassy taking muralist that work specifically with climate change and blowing their work up big. Work that was done in the United states and they're all outside US embassy in Beijing. And, you can also check out my website which is just, and you can reach out to me questions anytime.

Awesome, and I’ll also keep hyperlinks so if anyone ever wants to find it will be all on the show notes. Well, thank you! I really appreciate your time!

Thank you so much! I appreciate you having me on.

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