The 36th Annual Fall Festival Featured Artist


Featured Artist Carla Nickerson’s Inner-Warrior


Nickerson’s unique design for the festival: stop by the Pecan Street Association booth at 6th Street and Trinity for posters and t-shirts featuring it. 

This festival’s featured artist, Carla Nickerson, has long been driven by her ancestral inner-warrior in her many pursuits in life.

A seventh-generation Texas Renaissance Woman, Carla has worked as a film/tv/theatrical actor and multi-media artist for over 30 years. As a child, she and her siblings loved to experiment with vocal harmonies and produced/recorded audio comedy skits as well. She loved to draw and design clothes for her dolls, creating her first machine-sewn items at age 11.

In middle school, Carla joined the band as a trombonist, but ditched the instrument after freshman year for drill team, choir, the school newspaper and a myriad of other interests which culminated in her being named “Miss Taylor High School” — the first African-American to win the honor.

When plans to join the Army and “see the world as a warrior” fell through due to her braces (considered a pre-existing condition), she looked to her parents alma-mater and enrolled at Prairie View A&M University. She planned to study journalism, but quickly switched to fine arts with a specialty in advertising illustration. Carla dusted off her trombone skills and played with PVAM’s “Ocean of Soul” marching band, earning the distinction of being the first female trombonist in the school’s history. In her senior year, she was bitten by the stage bug after two performances with the Charles Gilpin Players.

After graduating, Carla worked as an art director and graphic artist, while actively pursuing fine arts and theatre. She began amassing numerous regional awards for the latter, but avoided juried exhibitions.


After marrying and becoming a mom, Carla’s inner-warrior reappeared, prompting her to apply to the Austin Police Academy just weeks before reaching the cutoff age for applicants. For the following seven years, she served as a patrol officer, garnering departmental commendations and community awards including the Austin Dispute Resolution Center’s “Peacemaker of the Year” award and Austin NAACP’s “Buffalo Soldier Award.” Upon returning to art full time, Carla volunteered with numerous arts groups and served as a liaison between police and the community from 2004-2007 with the Citizens Review Panel – the only trained police officer to do so.

Besides her visual arts and heralded theatrical work which began locally at Zach in 1983, she co-founded the Spectrum Theater Company There, Carla worked with famed musician Tina Marsh and her “Circle of Light” for seven years as a vocalist and storyteller. She recently developed her love of clothing design into the African-inspired clothing line, “Griot Style.”

In July, Carla entered her first juried exhibit in over 30 years and was awarded “Golden Honorable Mention” at the Taza Morocco 2016 Biennial International Fine Art Exhibit.

Carla currently works an arts administrator for the City of Austin’s Office of Arts and Cultural Resources.

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