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Sammie Nicely, Samuel Louis Nicely

Biography to Display: 

1947 Born Russellville, Tennessee

2015 Died Morristown, Tennessee


1968-1969 Coursework, Morristown Junior College, Morristown, Tennessee

1976 BS Art Education, Coursework in Sculpture & Weaving, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

1981-1983 Graduate Coursework in Ceramics & Drawing, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

1989 Sculptural Studies, Arrowmont School of Arts & Crafts, Gatlinburg, Tennessee


1987-1992 Artist in Residence, Tennessee Arts Commission, Nashville, Tennessee

1988-1992 Artist in Residence, South Carolina Arts Commission, Columbia, South Carolina


1977-2015 Professional Artist

1977-1989 Art Teacher, Upward Bound Program, Tusculum College, Greenville, Tennessee

1986 Co-Founder, Director, From Africa to Appalachia Foundation, Morristown, Tennessee

1980's Owner, Operator, Nicely Art Center, Russellville, Tennessee

1987-1989 Instructor, Out Reach workshop, Ft. Sanders Educational Development Center, Knoxville, Tennessee


Samuel Louis 'Sammie' Nicely is known for his stoneware and mixed media sculpture and drawing. Nicely uses a combination of slab, pinch and coil techniques to develop his sculptural forms. Nicely is also known for his pit-fired and mixed media masks that reference African and Southern Appalachian art.

His work is an expression of the way Nicely's African roots contrast with prevalent European traditions. In a departure from ceramics for which he is best known, Nicely also created a large series of pastel drawings.


Public Collections to Display: 

BellSouth Telecommunications, LLC, Atlanta, Georgia

Carroll Reese Museum, Eastern Tennessee State University, Johnson City, Tennessee

Fisk University, Nashville, Tennessee

Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia

Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee

National Afro-American Museum and Cultural Center, Wilberforce, Ohio

Rose Center, Morristown, Tennessee

Tennessee Valley Authority, Knoxville, Tennessee


Bibliography to Display: 

“Exhibit a Tribute to Art and Life of Sammie Nicely.” The Daily Post-Athenian, February 3, 2016.

Wampler, Angela, “Black History: Artwork Inspired by African Heritage,” A! Magazine for the Arts, January 31, 2012,

Williams, Don. “Artists Three” Folk Artists Play Off of What They Find.” Knoxville News Sentinel, December 5, 1989.




Center for CraftSouthern Highland Craft Guild



Center for CraftCenter For Craft


Typical Marks
Date: 1996
Form: Wall Hanging
Materials: Stoneware
Method: Hand-Built
Surface Technique: Glaze
Courtesy of Peter Rose
Photo: TMP
Courtesy of Peter Rose
Photo: TMP
Photo: TMP

Citation: Jeffrey Kuratnick. "The Marks Project." Last modified April 13, 2023.