Nicole Marrow Summers—Giving Others Her Gift of Art

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

Woman Around Town’s Six Questions:
Favorite Place to Shop: Canal Street in NYC and Bowie Town Center in Bowie, MD (12 Miles Outside of DC).  DC is home, no doubt about that. But there’s something about NYC that became home for me, too. I go from home to home as often as I can.
Favorite Place to Eat: Carrabbas. Love pasta!
Favorite Washington Sight: U.S. National Arboretum
Favorite Washington Moment: Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. “The FDR Monument/Memorial is my favorite because of the architectural commitment to detail; as an artist it is always my goal to project a story/reflection of a person, feelings, time, or place. The FDR memorial provides all of the above; the memorial is divided into four outdoor galleries, or rooms, reflecting one of each of FDR’s terms in office. As you walk through the Memorial there are beautiful waterfalls with quotes by FDR etched in stone; the view during the day is great, but the view at night is spectacular. From a visual and intellectual stand point the FDR Memorial stimulates both my mind and artistic scenes.”
What You Love About Washington: The museums and art galleries – the “undiscovered” art scene.
What You Hate About Washington: “There isn’t enough recognized individuality. Everything is the same. The air, the sound. It’s always the same. We have to work to change that.”

About Stephani E. D. McDow (7 Articles)
Before I could speak openly to the world, I communicated through my writing. For years, it seemed, writing was the only way in which I knew to speak. And, oddly enough, I was heard. I began writing at a very young age and this talent was later recognized by my being accepted into the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC. There, I specialized in writing, photography and radio production. In my youth, my work won quite a few local contests and was published in some unknown anthologies. That very love of writing and literature – art and music, culture and freedom – propelled me to pursue my BA degree in Humanities and English. I'm presently working on completing my first novel as well as having a collection of my poetry and short stories published. Though my foundation rests on my being a poet and prose writer, I have established a business in providing writing and editing services for individuals, non-profit organizations and small businesses.