Contemporary Folk Artist, Sammie Nicely (Atlanta, GA, B. 1947) is celebrating 32 years of creating artwork that reflects the ceremonies of African Diaspora cultures in the Americas, Caribbean and Asia. Born in Russellville, Tennessee, Nicely always knew that he wanted to be an artist. In 1975, he graduated from the University of Middle Tennessee where he began working in clay, mixed media and photography. His fascination with clay led him to use culturally diverse techniques to create glazes and textures in his ceramic pieces. He has extensively used the 'pit firing' technique, which was historically practiced in Japanese, African and Native American cultures in clay. He also uses found objects, wood and metal from various cultural origins. For example, he has used materials found on the ceremonial 'Bottle Trees', fetishes and baskets created by te African-Descendants, the Gullah People, in the Carolinas.
In describing his work, Nicely states, "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 where each person has to bring their own identity into play in order to appreciate my work." Sammie Nicely studied at the Arrowmont Center for Arts and Crafts. He also taught at the Penland School of Craft. His inspiration came from famous artists as, Bessie Harvey, Curtis and Evon Tucker and Romare Bearden. He served as both a visiting artist and a teacher at public and private schools throughout the southeastern United States and the Caribbean. Nicely has mentored several ceramic and mixed media artists, such as, Kimmy Cantrell, Henry Leonard and Bill Capshaw. Nicely's art has been exhibited and collected nationally and internationally. His artworks are in the collections of AT & T, Tennessee Valley Authority, Carroll Reece Museum, and the African American Museum f Wilberforce, Ohio. In 1996, he was commissioned by the Olympics Public Art Committee to create a permanent installation at Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta, Georgia. Further, as an avid art collector, Nicely has acquired an extensive collection of art from noted American, African and Caribbean artists, which serves to inspire his eclectic use of art materials and themes.
by Carlton F. Wikinson, Gallery Director
The Art Gallery at the Cultural Arts Building