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Volume 26, Number 5 — May 2019

Sammie Nicely is artist-in-residence at ETSU's Reece Museum this fall

Sammie Nicely
Sammie Nicely

October 14, 2014

JOHNSON CITY Multifaceted artist Sammie Nicely is an artist-in-residence for the fall semester at the Reece Museum at East Tennessee State University. His residency represents a first for the museum and was made possible by community supporters.

Nicely, a man of many talents, is difficult to label, according to Randy Sanders, interim director of the Reece Museum. "Referring to him only as a contemporary folk artist," Sanders says, "diminishes his work as an art educator, a master teacher. Calling him a regional artist undercuts his broad understanding of African and African American art."

This fall, as part of his Reece Museum residency program, Nicely will work with students at Northside Elementary School and with youth at the Carver Recreation Center. He will ask them to respond artistically to artifacts from his personal art collection and to artifacts specially selected from the Reece Museum's collection.

According to Nicely, "It is very important for students to see their work matted and framed as part of the finished product. I am quite happy to be working with Northside Elementary and Carver Recreation Center to give students a chance to explore the creative process and have the opportunity to showcase their work in a museum. This residency gives me the opportunity to showcase my personal collection of African and African-American art as well."

In early 2015, Nicely will curate "Children Respond to Material Culture," an exhibition at the Reece Museum of the students' work. Later in 2015, he will curate a second Reece Museum exhibit drawn from his personal art collection and related pieces from other non-ETSU collections.

"We are excited to have Mr. Nicely curating these exhibitions," Sanders said. "Showcasing the exuberant art of children and a second exhibit illustrating his discerning eye and vast connections with other collectors of African American art is a win-win combination for ETSU and the Reece Museum."

Finally, Nicely will deliver two lectures this fall: one about what his experiences in the public schools have taught him about art education in general and African American art education, specifically; and a second about his extensive network of African American art collectors. The dates, times, and locations of these lectures will be announced at a later date.

The Reece Museum, a unit of the Center for Appalachian Studies and Services, is free and open to the public. For more information, 423-439-4392 or

For disability accommodations, call the ETSU Office of Disability Services at 423-439-8346.