Through multidisciplinary creative practice, De Nichols mobilizes global changemakers to activate ideas that address civic and social challenges within their communities.
Based in St. Louis, MO, De Nichols serves as the Social Impact Design Principal of Civic Creatives, a design strategy agency 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 cultural producer, De organizes artists to develop digital media and visual artwork 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. Most recently, 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.
As a national keynote presenter and lecturer, De harnesses the creative power of design and storytelling to inspire and equip audiences to spark creative social change across their communities. She has opened the Clinton Global Initiative University, performed on the Millennium Stage of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, and even 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.
Within her community, De leads 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 additionally serves 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.
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.
Lectures & Workshops
“Design as a Catalyst for Change,” 2018. Sam Fox School of Design and Art, Washington University in St. Louis.
“Manifesto for a More Equitable Future,” Presenter, Dwell in Other Futures, St. Louis, MO.
“Visions for a Racially Equitable St. Louis,” Moderator, STL 2039 Launch, St. Louis, MO.
“Power, Social Politics, & Design,” Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, MO.
“A Mouth Is Always Muzzled: A Book Conversation with Author Natalie Hopkinson,” Speaker and Moderator, St. Louis, MO.
“Cultural Equity: Where Justice, Policy, and the Arts Align,” Keynote Speaker, Government Alliance for Racial Equity, Minneapolis, MN.
“Encountering Activism through Art,” Keynote Speaker, Religious Education Association Conference, St. Louis, MO.
“The Art of Protest,” TEDx Speaker, TEDxGatewayArch, St. Louis, MO
“Ideas That Matter,” Awards Presenter, AIGA Design Conference 2017, Minneapolis, MN
“Designing for Civic Impact,” Presenter, People’s Liberty, Cincinnati, OH
“The Bridge: Multigenerational HIstory of Activism,” Panel Organizer and Moderator, Missouri History Museum, St. Louis, MO
“Citizen Artistry: Mirror Casket,” Presenter and Ensemble Performer, John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, Washington, DC
“Designing Protest,” Presenter, Design + Diversity, St. Louis, MO
“Designing for Equitable Communities,” Speaker, Adaptive Path, San Francisco Design Week, San Francisco, CA
“Investing in the Arts,” Panelist, Americans for the Arts Conference, San Francisco, CA
“Collecting Ferguson,” Presenter and Moderator, American Alliance of Museums Conference, St. Louis, MO
Presenter, Open Engagement, Chicago, IL
“Design Serves: Museum Redux,” Workshop Lecturer, Flex Design Studio, Baltimore, MD
“Designing Civil Rights,” Presenter, MICA, Baltimore, MD
“WE MAKES: Design Serves Blitz” Workshop, St. Louis, MO
“The Black Experience: Specializing in the Art of the Impossible,” Speaker, St. Louis, MO
“Renaissance Arising: Comparisons of the Contemporary Black Creative Class and the Harlem Renaissance”
St. Louis, MO
“The Need for Arts Philanthropy for Rapid Response,” Presenter, Funders Network Conference, St. Louis MO
“If We Are to Win…” Speaker, Women’s March, St. Louis, MO
“Taking It to the Streets,” Moderator, Exhibition Panel, St. Louis, MO
“Artivists Roundtable,” Moderator, Culture/Shift, US Department of Arts and Culture, St. Louis, MO
“Creative Will: How Cities Can Utilize Creative Practices for Change,” Pecha Kucha, St. Louis, MO
“Designing in Times of Social Conflict & Transition,” Affect Conf, Portland, OR
“AIGA Town Hall on Racial Justice,” Panelist, Online
“Do What Makes You Come Alive,” Commencement Keynote Address, Sam Fox School of Design & Art, Washington University in St. Louis
“Ode to the Misfits,” Visionary Awards, St. Louis, MO
“The CASE: Contemporary Art Approaches to Social Engagement,” Designing Civil Rights Conference, Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, MA.
“Stories to Action,” United Story Summit, Emcee and workshop facilitator.
“Civic Matchmaking for Civic Changemaking,” Points of Light National Conference on Service and Volunteerism, Houston, TX. Plenary Speaker.
“From Logos to Protests: Using Design to Start a Movement,” AIGA National Design Conference, New Orleans, MO. Panelist.
“The Art of Social Change: Building Community, Catalyzing Change,” St. Louis, MO.
“Civic Matchmaking through Artmaking,” Webinar: Current Trends in Public Art 2- Public Art & Social Practice (Americans for the Arts). Presenter.
“Ethics and the Artist: Failure in Social Practice and Community Engagement” #FailureandArt Symposium. Panelist. St. Louis, MO.
“Living Out Your Calling,” Keynote Address, Youth Summer Leadership Summit. Memphis, TN.
Clinton Global Initiative University, Opening Plenary Student Speaker. Phoenix, AZ.
“Storytelling Toward Action: A United Story Workshop,” MONUMENTAL Youth Service Learning Conference. Washington, DC.
Mind the Gap, Local Perspectives Panelist. St. Louis, MO.
“Thoughts on Life Mastery,” Keynote Address, Financial Freedom Seminar, St. Louis, MO.
“Unlocking the Creative Capacity of Youth,” TEDxFurman U on Redesigning Education. Greenville, SC.
AshokaU Exchange, Innovation Presenter. San Diego, CA.
“Catalysts by Design: Exploring the Intersectionality of Design and Social Work,” IGNITEBrown, Brown School of Social Work, Washington University in St. Louis. St. Louis, MO.
“Creative Catalysts: Our Visual Becoming,” Women’s Caucus for Art Art+Social Justice Conference, Regional Arts Commission, St. Louis, MO.
“We Are Stronger than Your Violence,” Convention on Youth Violence, St. Louis, MO.
International Festivals and Events Association Annual Conference, St. Louis, MO.
“Becoming More: A Call to Action,” Graham Chapel, St. Louis, MO.
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
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
2018 Regional Arts Commission Artist Fellow
2017 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellowship
2014 Points of Light Civic Accelerator (CIVICX)
2013 StartingBloc Fellowship
2014 Finalist, Echoing Green
2011 COMMUNITY ARTS TRAINING INSTITUTE (CAT)
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 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