SAMMIE L. NICELY APPALACHIAN AWARD
The FL3TCH3R Exhibit is proud to announce the new name in honor of the life and contribution of artist, educator, long time supporter of the visual arts in the Appalachian region. Nicely served for a semester as the artist-in-residence at the Reece Museum, and in that capacity, worked at North Side Elementary School and in the after-school program at Johnson City’s Carver Recreation Center. In his role as artist-in-residence, Nicely selected three artworks from the Reece Museum Collection to use in second, third, and fourth-grade classrooms at North Side and at Carver. Over the fall of 2014, showing one selected museum artwork at a time, Nicely encouraged students to respond to what they saw by creating their own works of art. The Reece Museum displayed all 185 works in an exhibition entitled EXUBERANCE! Kids Make Art about Art. The museum also held a special evening reception for the students and their families in late-March of this year.
Additionally, Nicely, agreed to curate a summer 2015 Reece Museum exhibit entitled From an African American Perspective. A softbound 32-page catalogue accompanies the exhibition. That catalogue includes an essay by Los Angeles collector, Dr. Barbara Lang, as well as essays by the three collection contributors to the exhibition: Nicely, Peters, and Wright. The exhibition draws on both African and African American works, and includes paintings, sculptures and statuary, blown and stained glass, enamels, basketry, dolls, photographs, pottery, masks, and furniture.
After a brief stay at the Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System, he passed, or using the term he preferred, “transitioned,” on Saturday, May 23, 2015. Nicely leaves behind a legacy of love for life and art.
Reece Museum’s interim director, Randy Sanders, “We are honored to host the final show Mr. Nicely curated, and especially thankful that his last artist-in-residency was in Johnson City. He was, and in our hearts is, a great man.”
“Nicely is a Renaissance man of the arts – he is a practicing multi-media artist, while at the same time teaching children and curating exhibits that relate African images with African-American crafts,” said Lucy Kuykendall, Pryor Gallery curator. More specifically, he unites African traditions with the spirit of African-Americans in Appalachia, as he grew up in Russellville, an East Tennessee community, and founded the From Africa to Appalachia Foundation. He has received a Tennessee Arts Commission Fellowship for craft, advised an installation on the UT Knoxville campus about the cultural progression of African American families, and created the commissioned piece, “Out of Many One,” for the Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta. Nicely has been featured in multiple one-man and group shows since the late 1980s. His work is a part of many collections, including the TVA, Bell South, the National Afro-American Museum, ETSU, MTSU, and Georgia State. He has taught at the Penland Craft School in North Carolina, as well as in the public schools systems of both Tennessee and Georgia.
"As an artist, my work is an extension of myself and helps me to better understand my cultural heritage. It is a crucial means of self-understanding. I see art as the medium through which such understanding can be attained. I create art for self-satisfaction and a way of communicating with others. My art serves as a common ground for communication where each person has to bring their own identity into play in order to appreciate my work."
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