The Art Center of the Bluegrass is adding a new member to the team. Jeffrey Nichols has been hired as Visual Arts Director, bringing with him decades of studio art and arts administration experience. “We are very excited to introduce Jeffrey to Danville,” says Executive Director, Niki Kinkade. Nichols is already well-known regionally, having served as Gallery Director for the Living Arts and Science Center in Lexington since 2012.
In his curatorial statement, Nichols describes his goal of “developing exhibitions that engage and inspire, unite institutional programming and mission, encourage scholarly research and critical analysis, promote collaborations with community partners, and focus on presenting a diverse group of artists.”
“The more we talked with Jeffrey, the more it was clear that his creative vision and artistic skill-set were a fantastic match for our organization,” says Kinkade. Since rebranding as Art Center of the Bluegrass in 2019, the organization has been working to grow its regional footprint. “Jeffrey brings a wealth of connections with artists and arts professionals throughout Kentucky.”
Nichols says he was impressed by the Art Center’s growth over the past several years and by their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. “I know how hard it has been for arts organizations these past 18 months. The fact that the Art Center was able to operate continuously throughout the pandemic really speaks to their commitment and innovation.”
In addition to his work for the LASC, Nichols is a practicing ceramic artist and sculptor. In 2010, he was awarded the Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council, an honor given every two years to Kentucky studio artists. During his thirty-year artistic career, Nichols has exhibited his studio pottery in galleries nationally and internationally including: The Clay Studio in Philadelphia, Northern Clay Studio in Minneapolis, and the World Ceramic Center in Icheon, South Korea. His studio pottery has appeared in Pottery Making Illustrated, American Craft Magazine, Ceramics Monthly, Lark Ceramic Books, and several American Ceramic Society publications.
The Art Center has identified growing the ceramics program as an organizational priority for the next few years, with particular emphasis on the studio membership program. Experienced potters can join the Art Center ceramics studio, gaining access to the Arts Center’s Ceramics Studio, use of communal tools and glazes, and access to the kiln. “We have been looking for a ceramics artist who can manage the studio and take our ceramics program to the next level and Jeffrey absolutely has the skills and passion to make that happen,” says Kinkade.
In addition to curating the Art Center’s exhibits and managing the Ceramics Studio, Nichols will work closely with Program Director Leigh Jefferson to design and implement the Art Center’s signature free field trip program. During the upcoming Appalachia exhibit, which opens in January, more than 1,500 students from surrounding counties will participate in exhibit field trips, both virtually and in-person. “This exhibit represents an opportunity to challenge prevailing stereotypes about Appalachia and to celebrate the art and culture of the region. I’m looking forward to exploring those important themes with students.”
Nichols will begin his new position in early January.