133 Art Barn
University of Manitoba
(Fort Garry Campus)
Winnipeg, Manitoba R3T 2M6

T. 204.474.8318
E. grace.nickel@umanitoba.ca

gracenickel.ca

Education

  • MFA (NSCAD)

  • BFA (University of Manitoba)

Creative work & Research

My art practice is focused on sculptural ceramics and installation. I investigate how material, process, and scale impart meaning to form and how they influence the aesthetic qualities of my studio work through exploring both traditional and new technologies. I am interested in sculpture as a commemorative act – a three-dimensional art form that I use to memorialize three-dimensional life forms (or their former lives). For some time now I have studied the tree and its life cycle as a means to metaphorically represent our existence and the natural transformation of the body from beginning to end. Although I tend to interpret biology using a forensic lens, there are also hints of regeneration reflected in the new ceramic growth I create, for instance, embellished surfaces that suggest a mediated type of bark, leaf growth, fungal or floral eruptions. Underlying all of my studio explorations is an insatiable interest in the extremely long history of ceramics and how it continues to inform contemporary practice in the clay medium.

In the classroom, my teaching is built upon a foundation of rigorous observation, research, inquiry, skill-building, conceptual development, risk-taking, and cultivating a high standard and hard work ethic. 

Nickel herself recently completed a breathtaking body of work called Arbor Vitae. Her large-scale sculptures are the result of two years of intensive study in China, where she learned from traditional masters how to work with Jingdezhen porcelain. But she also uses a new architectural technology called fabric formwork, which uses flexible fabric membranes to create sensual curvatures. Her sculptures combine the natural beauty of trees with the strength of classical columns. They embody the old and the new, the past and the present, and are emblematic of the category-busting ceramics movement she is helping propel.

— Sarah Swan, “Breaking Down Barriers: Western artists are pushing the boundaries of ceramics in exciting new directions,” Galleries West, May 28, 2015

About Grace

Grace Nickel is an award-winning artist who has been successful in numerous competitions, including the Mino International Ceramics Competition, Japan, and the Taiwan Ceramic Biennale. Her work has been selected for the Cheongju International Craft Biennale in Korea, the NCECA Invitational Exhibition, in Philadelphia and Portland, and the Fule International Art Museums Project in Fuping, China. Public commissions include Donors’ Forest created for the Beechwood National Cemetery of Canada in Ottawa, and permanent collections include the Museum of Modern Ceramic Art in Gifu, Japan, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the New Taipei City Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taiwan. She has had numerous solo exhibitions, including at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, the Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Burlington, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Grace has attended numerous artists’ residencies, spoken widely about her work, and regularly attends conferences to keep up to the minute on contemporary ceramics practice. She has a long history of involvement with the arts community in Winnipeg and teaching art.