Connie’s colorful canvases featured

Periwinkle blue. That’s what you could thank when you look at Connie Nicholson’s art. 

The Pima Community College student, who counted her crayon box and family as motivators to study art, recently was selected to be showcased at the Bernal Gallery Annual Juried Student Art Exhibit at the Center for the Arts at West Campus.  

Nicholson describes her art as figurative. She said she portrays people in their work and gives it a narrative. 

“Whether it’s a fishmonger or baker, construction worker, musician or writer, my subject matter embraces people most times,” Nicholson said. “Color plays an important part in expressing mood, and I fill my canvases with lots of color.” 

Growing up with a family with passions for travel and history exposed her to various cities and museums around the world. Her parents inspired appreciation for literature, music, dance, science and more.

“I have vivid memories as a child for travel where I saw art in Mexico, Europe and the U.S.A.,” she said. “My mother traveled with history books and journaled throughout, quizzing and urging attention to the educational lessons surrounding me.”

Nicholson enjoys all things paint. Take brushwork, for instance, which she considers to be difficult. She mainly works with acrylic, a form of paint, which she said helps give her brushwork expression.

Nicholson mainly attends Northwest Campus at Pima. Her major is undeclared, but art is her primary area of study. 

“Coupled with a nearby location and financial means to attend Pima Community College, I found the time to return to art in a formal setting,” she said. “A top priority for me at Pima is a mentoring professor and student environment.”

She says that she is very fortunate to have hit the jackpot at Pima. She has been able to work with Matthias Düwel, the general education in art and art history discipline coordinator. 

“His professionalism is eye opening to my own potential,” said Nicholson, who noted that Düwel is one of the reasons she applied to the exhibit. “It expands my knowledge about the directions I may take as I go forward.”

Nicholson was straightforward on what she hoped to get out of the showcase: A platform.

“Let’s be honest: Art is work and work requires — necessitates — compensation,” she said. “For too long, the notion is that art is an ‘extra’ expense. This is so backward. So people, buy art. It’s what makes us breathe — artist and layperson alike — and paying for it underlines its necessity.”

Nicholson says that if she is able to get something out of this experience, and there is a possibility to broadcast her own self worth, it’s all the better. 

“We all want to be valued,” she said. “It’s not aggrandizement, it’s reality.”

Nicholson, who spent her childhood years in Denver, previously was a pilot. Another career, as a partner in a petroleum business, had her living in China and Russia, among other international cities.

In 2000, she moved to Tucson. She was still a pilot, so the aviation environment lured her even more. 

“I’ve always enjoyed the Southwestern U.S.A.,” she said. “Hot, dry climates and vibrant culturally diverse communities. Tucson has this and lots more. Choosing to have a ‘home’ in Tucson where it wasn’t in a moving box was a real treat.”

Aside from art, Nicholson enjoys aviation and is interested in history, world cultures, cooking, Pilates and swimming.  

For the past year, she has been volunteering at Pima Air and Space Museum. She also has volunteered with Literacy Connects in Tucson, teaching English to adult learners. 

For now, Nicholson is taking college one class at a time. 

“I’ve got almost all my credits to do a transfer to a four-year university, should the direction of a creative platform move me there,” she said. “Many international study options hold my interest with the chance for diversity in cultural exposure and perspectives. Even when energy or finances don’t take us to all the places we may want to go, we must dream. Realization has a large part of dream in it.”

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