Sammie Nicely was born in Russellville, TN. He received his B.S. degree in art education from Middle Tennessee State University with graduate studies in sculpture at the Arrowmont School of Art and Crafts in Gatlinburg. Nicely works in a variety of media. His pit-fired ceramic masks fuse Native American and African art traditions and techniques to create visual images inspired by ritual and everyday life. Nicely has extensive experience as a master teacher at all levels with a vast array of populations. Although Nicely currently lives and works in Atlanta, GA, he maintains strong ties with Eastern Tennessee. He is the co-founder of the “From Africa to Appalachia Foundation” dedicated to exposing African/African American visual and performing art to people in Appalachia. Since 1986, the foundation has presented an annual celebration and exhibition at the Rose Center in Morristown, TN.