Stephani E. D. McDow

Stephani E. D. McDow

Nicole Marrow Summers–Giving Others Her Gift of Art

Woman Around Town | December 1st, 2010 | Visit the original article online

There are six pieces of art that grace my office walls. Each piece, some element of me, made visible to all who enter. And each of my visitors can’t help but marvel at the warmth and soothing feeling of my office, its art–so enticingly comfortable. Some pieces hold a delicate balance between regal and familiar. Eloquence, as only the sense of sight should experience it. Should emotion, dreams, truth and understanding find pause, the product is Art by Nicole.

Her home studio, steps from her bedroom should the inspiration hit her mid-REM, is flooded by mid-morning, natural light streaming through the window. Easels, canvases, mattes, paper, spots of pencil clusters and brushes all around–a symphonic chaos that makes perfect sense. On the walls are works of a jazz influence–saxophonists and the like: Presumably an ode to her husband’s gift. In a corner beside the closet, there’s a mini version of her workstation. As she works, her budding, 4 year-old artist does so also. Admirable of her mother’s artistic air and completely at ease in her own artistic flow, Faith takes red crayon to notepad and starts her own abstractness that may be a drawing of a person, but who knows what it will blossom into.

Comparatively, Faith is starting out early: Her mom’s artistic birth began with trouble. In the fifth grade, Nicole was constantly reprimanded for doodling in class and not paying attention; and no matter how much trouble it brought her, she was unable to stop the doodling. A characteristic that her daughter also shares–in other ways. Nicole walks over to give her daughter more colors and makes her way back to her table, sits in her seat and eases it back enough to allow room of comfort for the other artist who is making his way into this world in late winter.

“It used to just be life and life experiences that motivated me, you know? How things make me feel and how I see those feelings. Now, I have bonus motivation in her,” she glances toward her daughter, “and now him,” she places a hand on her rounded belly. I look around her studio and flip through the book of prints in my hand, smiling at the visual responses to her emotions. This gift seems to flow from her so effortlessly–it sparked me to ask if she experienced blocks like I do (those maddening writer’s blocks that render me helpless and valueless). She does. I guess that’s just a way of life for the creative types. “I’ve never known a depression like that when it happens. Feels like there’s no life in me. Seeing myself, I don’t even look the same.”

It’s a good thing for us that such doesn’t come upon her often. Since graduating from Washington DC’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Georgetown where Nicole majored in Visual Arts, and completing coursework at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Nicole has been completely about letting the world know how she sees things. She’s been featured in Sister to Sister magazine as well as the Prince George’s Post. She’s had prior showings at the Amber Tree Gallery at the National Harbor, the People’s Expo and the Congressional Black Caucus. She has an upcoming showing at the Key Gallery in Ft. Washington, MD and is regularly commissioned to do personal pieces by those who’ve witnessed and admired her work.

However, art showings, commissioned works and frozen, pictorial emotions that simply move her to canvas are not where the dream and drive ends. Nicole aspires to open up a gallery to celebrate unrecognized artists in the Washington DC metro area: A place in which she would also continue her volunteer work to encourage and cultivate the talent of young artists much like what she does at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. In addition to this, she’s looking for a broader audience expanding her commissioned work from individuals to include requests by corporations and non-profit organizations. “I definitely want more exposure. I would love to sell some of my pieces to the great restaurants that we have in the city, you know? Have some of my work hang in some of the major office spaces. I think it would be, like, a dream come true if I could do a mural somewhere downtown. That would be [sigh] nice. Really nice.”

Looking around her studio and thinking of the pieces that hang on my office walls–I’d have to agree. To have one of DC’s own color a part of the city with the heart of what she’s come to know and love as her existence. Her truth. Her motivation. Her sight. Yes, really nice.

Art by Nicole

Nicole Marrow Summers