Grace Nickel
Assistant Professor

133 Art Barn
Curriculum Vitae


BFA (University of Manitoba)


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 sometime 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, and 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


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.
She is currently an Associate Professor in the School of Art at the University of Manitoba.



Grace Nickel (2019), Pyre No. 1 with White Vessels, porcelain, oxide, glaze, 20 × 40 × 15 cm (8 × 16 × 6 in.).
Photo: Michael Zajac.

Grace Nickel (2019), Pyre No. 2 with Bronze Vessels, porcelain, oxide, glaze, 20 × 40 × 15 cm (8 × 16 × 6 in.).
Photo: Michael Zajac. 


Grace Nickel (2015), Arbor Vitae, porcelain (forms made using fabric-formed mould work, slip cast and press moulded with hand-built additions), oxide, glaze, metal armatures, 240 × 360 × 525 cm overall (94 × 142 × 207 in.).
Photo: Michael Zajac.

Grace Nickel (2015), Prone from Arbor Vitae (detail).
Photo: Michael Zajac.

Grace Nickel (2015), Host, Jingdezhen porcelain, forms made using fabric-formed mould work, slip cast with hand-built additions, metal base and armature, 270 × 50 × 50 cm (106 × 19 × 19 in.).
Photo: Michael Zajac.

Grace Nickel (2015), Host (detail).
Photo: Michael Zajac.