Sherrie Nickol is a fine art photographer who captures moments in time – and in life – with an almost tangible warmth and energy. She grew up in Osceola, Arkansas and has lived her adult life in New York City. Nickol studied photography at the University of Cincinnati and later at the International Center of Photography in New York City. Her photographs are in the permanent collection of the Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris, and in numerous private collections in the United States. She has mounted one-person exhibitions at Temple University and The National Arts Club in New York City.
For a number of years one of my main bodies of work has been photographing contemporary dancers. In June 2017, I was in residence for a few weeks as the photographer in residence for Springboard Danse Montreal, a not-for-profit organization that connects hand selected, elite performers with influential and renowned dance companies and choreographers from around the world. During this residency I was introduced to Shamel Pitts, a Brooklyn born performance artist, chorographer, and remarkable dancer, who had recently completed performing for seven years with the Batsheva Dance Company in Israel.
In January 2018, Shamel Pitts created and performed Black Velvet with his collaborator, Michelle Martins, in New York City. I photographed Shamel and Michelle during their sound check of Black Velvet, which was the second installment of the Black Series to be performed at the 14th Street Y in New York City. Movement, shape, and form have always inspired me, so this was a fitting dance performance for me to photograph.
In an interview that Shamel had with the author Armando Braswell about what “Black Velvet” means he stated in his own words: “I see the two words together that are inseparable. They merge and become one word for me. “Black” is usually referred to when something is negative, mysterious, cryptic, or unknown, like a black hole in space. We tend to label bad things black. I would like to shift this power dynamic towards titling of these unknown nouns and I would like to amplify the brightness, colorfulness and beauty in black!”