Grace Nickel

Bio: Grace Nickel is a Professor at the University of Manitoba with a focus on teaching ceramics. Alongside teaching full-time, she keeps up a rigorous studio practice. She is an award-winning artist from Winnipeg, Canada who has been successful in numerous competitions, including the Mino International Ceramics Competition, Japan, the Taiwan Golden Ceramics Awards, the Cheongju International Craft Biennale in Korea, the Fletcher Ceramic Awards in New Zealand, and the Taiwan Ceramics Biennale. Grace Nickel is the 2023 recipient of the Governor General’s Saidye Bronfman Award, Canada’s highest honour for fine craft in the visual arts.
Artist’s Statement: 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. Increasingly the devastating impact of human intervention disrupting these natural cycles has become central to my practice. 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. Most recently I have begun to research the ceramics of my forbears, the Anabaptist potters of Central and Eastern Europe.