Heather Nickles

Heather Nickels joined the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art (MBMA) in August 2019 as the Joyce Blackmon Curatorial Fellow of African American Art and Art of the African Diaspora. From June 5 - August 29, 2021, Ms. Nickels’ fellowship exhibition Persevere and Resist: The Strong Black Women of Elizabeth Catlett was on-view at the MBMA. This exhibition, which received funding from the Terra Foundation in American Art, was accompanied by a fully illustrated scholarly catalogue published by Paul Hoberton Press in the U.K., and included essays by Ms. Nickels and Catlett expert, Dr. Melanie Herzog. Accompanying the exhibition was a video which featured Black women and girls in Memphis (including Ms. Nickels) speaking aloud the narrative titles of The Black Woman series, a set of fifteen prints created by the artist Elizabeth Catlett in 1946-7. Another short film, produced by the arts non-profit Shifting Vision, highlighted the trope of the “StrongBlackWoman” in Nickels’ exhibition, as well as in popular culture and media.

Prior to arriving in Memphis, she completed a M.A. with Distinction in the History of Art from The Courtauld Institute of Art in London. Her dissertation focused on the short-lived “Little Paris Group” art collective and workshop active in Washington D.C. in the 1940s and 1950s. She graduated cum laude with a B.A in Art History from Barnard College in 2016. Her thesis explored the representation of servants and domestic workers in eighteenth-century French paintings.

Ms. Nickels has worked for several American non- and for-profit arts institutions, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, The Courtauld Gallery, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Sperone Westwater Gallery and Andrea Rosen Gallery. For two years, she worked as a project research associate for independent art historian Dr. Denise Murrell on the exhibition, Posing Modernity: The Black Model from Manet and Matisse to Today | Le Modèle noir, de Géricault à Matisse, which opened at the Wallach Gallery, Columbia University in 2018 and later traveled to the Orsay Museum in Paris.

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