About Nicole Shivers

Nicole Shivers grew up in Las Vegas, eventually moving along to the East Coast to work in the art world while still carrying a bit of the glitzy Vegas strip culture. She was an education & program manager, offering services artists development & program development. Once an employee of the more administrative part of the art world, Shivers has now left to create her own voice and her own pieces. She admits that the transition was difficult, from a very instructional state to something more unknown. The pieces she submitted reflect her struggle within the transition of feeling unheard in a larger institution, as well as the experience of beauty, sorrow, and deception that Black people have faced. The pieces are sculpture mixed media, using any objects, kitsch, and “secrets” that represent narratives of frustration, of people constantly facing hardships whilst contributing to this society and the struggle to find one’s identity during all this frustration.  

New Brunswick Art Salon 2020 – “The Space Between” – Women’s Caucus for Art New York City Chapter

Email: niccis@hotmail.com

Artist Statement

Transitioning from cultural producer of programs to a cultural producer of my own visual works and engagement has not been easy. It’s been a revealing process to myself and those around me. These pieces are part of a series Black the Gift That Keeps on Giving is a living testimony from my heart, and historical events of past and present. It’s works that we’re conceived out of self and temporal repetitive frustrations. They live for the struggle of a people who despite being builders of civilizations and today’s great impact leaders and innovators still struggle through erroneous odds and in your face subjugation. These works portray stories of beauty, sorrow and deception. They’re reasoned for those who know tribulations, those who don’t and those who need to look in the mirror and recognize. It’s a journey through me a woman coming out of an institution that not always acknowledged her work but whose few champions and hard work presented opportunity and new successes. I work with new and found objects. I work with kitsch. I work with secrets unveiled but not to those who understand. The result has taken on new narratives that will intertwine onlookers. And ignite real applicable progress starting with self and onto the greater community.


Cultivate valuable relationships – Secured $1.8M in project funding for a major educational project at Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (NMAFA), the largest gift at the time in museum history.

Create engaging programming – Developed a broad range of special commissioned productions, including widely praised, special commissioned events for NMAFA: the ballet Hamdan: Through the Gate of Tears and the opera Qadar and award winning documentaries Arts of the Monsoon and Hamdan: Backstage

Source and secure funding – Increased funding for educational programs at NMAFA, including $75K from Chevron in support of the museum’s Annual Community Day, $50K+ in support of Studio Africa, and a $176K grant from W.K. Kellogg Foundation.


Integrating Summer Arts Institute for Educators June 2019

Mentor and Participant

South Carolina African American Heritage Commission’s Integrating Arts in Curriculum of Grades K-12 through the lens of Gullah Geechee Culture

The Fit Prince of New York – Harlem, New York 2018 – 2019

Creative Director

This production is an interactive musical performance developed and starring Harlem based artist Neil Totten. This multidisciplinary experience features original music, dance, and video. It is a living testimony how music served as medicine for the Fit Prince Neil Totten that explores lessons all princes must master to become kings.

Managed technical and creative direction for performances, which included music and video content, and performance space logistics.

Smithsonian National Museum of African Art (NMAFA) – Washington, DC

2007 – 2017

Education Specialist for Performing Arts, Film Programming, and Strategic Partnerships

Lead development and execution of a portfolio of programs and cultural events aimed at meeting a mandate to broaden access, revitalize education, and value world cultures. Research, develop, execute and manage educational and public programming that encompasses traditional and contemporary performing and cultural arts of Africa and its diaspora. Write grants and serve as a donor contact. Create marketing collateral and educational material.

Managed all aspects of the development and implementation of a visionary, 3-year project Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean: From Oman to East Africa, including securing $1.8M in grants from the Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center (SQCC).

Led the team responsible for creating Special Commission Ballet Hamdan: Through the Gate of Tears by choreographer Ray Mercer (The Lion King), which was presented free of charge to increase access among marginalized communities.

Guided development of a Special Commission Opera Qadar, which was performed at the Kennedy Center and Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center and was cast with teens from the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington, DC.

Executive Produced 2 documentary films: Hamdan: Making of a Ballet (winner Best Documentary, San Diego Black Film Festival) and Arts of the Monsoon (winner for Best Editing, Berlin International Film Festival)

Developed Mobile App for Connecting the Gems Project- Swahili poetry included spoken in Arabic and Swahili.

Created an array of special commissioned performance art pieces with artists from Africa and its diaspora

Grew visitorship to NMAFA 53% through outreach and by creating exciting, targeted programming like: Africa in Motion, Africa in Reel Time, Flipping the Script, and ArtWrite in Africa. Curriculum included poetry in relation to African and Cinema.

Developed and implemented international museum educational training for museum professionals. Travelled to Oman to facilitate training on public and educational programming and building community relationships with local artists and museums.

Expanded NMAFA’s strategic programming partnerships to include relationships with Smithsonian Latino Center, Boys & Girls Club, Washington Ballet, Living Colour’s Vernon Reid, and artists Mwangi Hutter, Holly Bass and Sheldon Scott.

Reginald F. Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture – Baltimore, MD

2004 – 2006

Public Programs Manager

Led Education Staff Assistant and interns. Developed and implemented schedule of educational and cultural programs. Assessed and monitored existing partnerships and curriculum based programs. Conducted outreach to local and statewide stakeholders. Collaborated in developing materials for web-based learning. Represented museum on television and radio.

Evaluated the success of An African American Journey, a pilot partnership with Baltimore City Schools involving 125 teachers delivering 43-lesson curriculum covering local African American history.

Cultivated support for Free Fall Baltimore / Heritage Walk, a project made possible by Mayor O’Malley’s Office that connected 20 cultural heritage sites and museums within walking distance of each other.

Created B-More Creative Theatre Project with playwright Kermit Frazier, who conducted workshops with area teens who wrote living history plays to be performed by Baltimore School for the Arts High School’s acting ensemble.

Contributed ideas and services to enhance public access, outreach, and engagement. Developed new program series for the museum, including film festivals, performing arts events and First Friday Jazz.

Art on the Block Project – Washington, DC


Community Outreach Team Leader

Led workshop on the history of mosaics for 200 community participants, engaging the public in artistic projects aimed at revitalizing the community. Built support and participation by conducting outreach to community centers and businesses.

US Government Accountability Office – Washington, DC

2002 – 2004

Policy Analyst

Conducted literature reviews and analyses. Wrote and provided oral briefings and reports to congressional committees. Developed and maintained relationships with area experts, congressional customers, and agency officials in diplomatic, government and non-profit operations. Provided research and analysis in support of several GAO reports.

Developed several events in support of Diversity Month, with a focus on diversity in the workplace. Organized and hosted Q&A session with Comptroller David Walker and created lectures with guest speakers.

Designed speaker series events and oversaw logistics for International Auditing Fellowship Program presentations.


Docent – Stephen Decatur House Museum – Washington, DC

2001 – 2002

Gallery Assistant – Parish Gallery of Georgetown – Washington, DC

2001 – 2002

Confidential Assistant – Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs, US Department of Education – Washington, DC

1999 – 2001


Master of Arts, African Women’s Studies – Clark Atlanta University – Atlanta, GA, 2001

BA, History (African American and Russian History) – Tennessee State University – Nashville, TN, 1996


Member – ArtTable, 2010 – Present

Member, Advisory Board and Advocacy Committee – Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA), 2010 – Present

Member, Advisory Board – CatWalk Scholarly Journal, 2010 – Present

Member – The American Alliance of Museums, 2011 – Present


Attendee – Getty Next Generation for Museum Leadership Program, 2012

Invited Attendee – Washington DC’s 100 Most Powerful Women, 2011


Connecting the Gems of the Indian Ocean- A Memoire

Co-author, Book – Maddening Behaviors: Some I Hear, A Lot I See, featured original poems by authors

Author, Article – Arts in the Black: Toward a Resurrected Vision in Political Lobbying and Government Funding

Author, Conference Paper – Fashion as Performance: Influencing Future Trends and Building New Audiences

Artist Interview