Through a multidisciplinary creative practice, De Nichols mobilizes global changemakers to activate ideas that address civic and social challenges within their communities.
Currently, De Nichols is a 2020 Loeb Fellow in residence at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. De additionally serves as the Principal of Design & Social Practice at Civic Creatives, a design strategy agency in St. Louis, MO, that develops interactive experiences, tools, and initiatives to help communities engage issues of civic disengagement, youth development, social inclusion, food access and security, and arts & cultural policy.
As a social practice artist, De develops digital media and visual works that extend the impact of her design practice. She is the visioning artist of the Mirror Casket (2014), a sculpture and performance created as protest art during the 2014 Ferguson uprising, which was collected by the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum for African-American History and Culture in 2016. Her projects such as Sticky Note to Self, United Story (2015), and FoodSpark integrate art and public interventions to help audiences reflect and respond to cultural microagressions facing women, queer communities, and people of color. Through her leadership with these and other works, Nichols has been deemed a national Ideas that Matter recipient, a two-time Clinton Global Initiative innovator, and a St. Louis Visionary for her community impact. She was named a 2017 Citizen Artist Fellow of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and 2018 Artist Fellow with the Regional Arts Commission in St. Louis, MO, before receiving the Loeb Fellowship at Harvard.
As a national lecturer, De harnesses the creative power of design and storytelling to inspire and equip audiences to spark creative social action in the address of spatial injustices, racial division, and cultural inequities. She has opened the Clinton Global Initiative University, performed on the Millennium Stage of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, and given a commencement speech for the Sam Fox School of Design at Washington University in St. Louis. Across campuses, conferences, and communities, De ignites audiences with awe-inspiring and action-driven talks.
De serves as the youngest member of the Board of Directors for Forward through Ferguson, a non-profit developed to hold the St. Louis region accountable to racial equity following the 2014 murder of Michael Brown. She is the inaugural chair of the Board of Directors for Creative Reaction Lab, which educates and equips Black and Latinx youth to foster design-based approaches to racial issues within schools and neighborhoods across the United States. In addition, she is a national #Fight4AFuture ambassador for Generation Progress and its youth-led efforts against gun violence and criminal injustice.
Nichols is an alum of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis, where she specialized in communication design, social entrepreneurship, and socio-economic development. She is a John B. Ervin Scholar, Brown Scholar, and Enterprise-Rent-a-Car Scholar. Her efforts have been supported by the Clinton Global Initiative, Women’s Caucus for Art, Gephardt Institute for Public Service, Ideas that Matters, Pulitzer Arts Foundation, StartingBloc Fellowship for Social Innovation, Points of Light Civic Accelerator, Microsoft YouthSpark, and AshokaU Changemakers.
De has had the honor to be featured and written about in several books about the intersections of design, social activism, and equality.
2019 Loeb Fellow, Harvard University
2018 Regional Arts Commission Artist Fellow
2017 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow
2014 Points of Light Civic Accelerator (CIVICX)
2013 StartingBloc Fellow
2014 Finalist, Echoing Green
2011 Community Arts Training Institute (CAT)
2017 Juror, National Ideas that Matter Awards
2017 Thought Leaders Roundtable, EVOKE Arts & Cultural Planning
2016 Board of Directors, Forward through Ferguson
2015 Chair, Board of Directors, Creative Reaction Lab
2014 Featured Innovator, Clinton Global Initiative University
2013 Featured Innovator, Clinton Global Initiative University
2017 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellowship Recognition
2016 St. Louis Visionary Awards Recipient
2013 Microsoft YouthSpark, Finalist (Design Serves)
2012 Cordes Innovation Award, Semi-finalist
2011 Sappi | Ideas that Matter, Recipient, COMMON Hoops
2010 Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award, St. Louis, MO
2010 Langston Hughes Award, St. Louis, MO
2008 Memphis Truth Award, Memphis, TN
2012 George Warren Brown School of Social Work, Brown Scholar
2006-2010 John B. Ervin Scholar, Full academic scholarship and stipend, Washington University in St. Louis
2006-2010 Enterprise Rent-a-Car Foundation Scholar
2004-2006 William H. Sweet Scholar
2015 “Mirror Casket” (2014), National Museum for African American History and Culture, Smithsonian.
Apr 2020 Abstractions of Black Citizenship, Hedreen Gallery, Seattle, WA
Apr 2017 “Denotations,” Taking It to the Streets: Arts Alive on the Streets, Kranzberg Art Gallery, St. Louis, MO
Mar 2017 “Sticky Note to… Love,” The Clothesline, St. Louis, MO
Jan 2017 “Black Notes,” Taking it to the Streets, Gallery 210, St. Louis, MO
Oct 2015 Arts in Struggle, Satori Gallery,
St. Louis, MO
Sep 2015 IMPCTXDESIGN, 14.15, Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis, MO
July 2015 With, Not For, Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis, MO
Jan-Apr 2015 I Have a Right To…, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis, MO
2014-2015 Moments of Silence: Visual Responses to Ferguson, Various Galleries, St. Louis, MO
2010 Profile Me: An Art Exhibition on Racial Profiling, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
2007 Echoes of Truth, Memphis Coliseum, Memphis, TN