Scott Community College (SCC) Art Instructor and Read Art Gallery Coordinator Nicole Davis, MFA, was recently awarded a $15,000 Artist Fellowship from the Illinois Arts Council (IAC). The program recognizes exceptional artists and supports their continued growth.  

“For me, what’s special about the fellowship is that it is unrestricted. I can use it any way that I choose. For me that is important because I am still at the beginning of my journey as an artist and this is giving me the freedom to decide how I want to proceed,” she said.  

“I am thinking about possibly using it for dedicated studio space or further education and training in the fiber arts. I am looking into summer programs, things like that, so I can really explore more,” Davis said.   

Her career as an artist and SCC instructor evolved over eight years. After spending 21 years as a special education teacher, she pivoted and enrolled in a community college painting class. “The professors took me under their wings and opened all these possibilities, which is why I have this very special place in my heart for community colleges. They are so vital,” Davis said.  

In 2020, she graduated with honors from the University of Iowa with a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Painting and Drawing. During her graduate studies, she also began exploring fiber art, utilizing the energy embodied in time-honored materials to address issues related to her lived experience as a Black woman. 

Her current art practice encompasses textiles, photography, and painting. Her work has been shown at the Soo Visual Arts Center, Minneapolis; Koehnline Museum in Skokie, Illinois; Legion Arts in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; South Bend Museum of Art, Indiana; and Freeport Art Museum, Freeport, Illinois, among others. She’s featured in the publication New American Paintings, No. 153, and was a 2020 Artivism Fellow for the Broadway Advocacy Coalition. 

Davis received many scholarships and fellowships during her graduate studies and had residencies at Ox-Bow School of Art. She has been a visiting critic and/or given lectures at Cornell College, Drake University, Divine Word College, and the Figge Art Museum.  

She’s also taught art classes at SCC for two years. “I love art. I love education. And to finally be able to combine those two things has been a dream come true,” Davis said. “I feel honored to be an educator and create safe space for students to express themselves in authentic ways.” 

Davis describes herself as an artist who likes to experiment and tinker. “I love to pull everything out and surround myself with fabrics and found objects and make connections between those two things to build pieces,” she said. 

She invites students to step into that space as well. “In my classes, I talk a lot about exploration and play, pushing boundaries and going outside of our comfort zone to discover new things. We talk quite a bit about how accidents are not really accidents; they are doors to explore something new, a gift dropped into our lap that teaches us something and leads to new discoveries,” Davis said. 

Art at EICC 

EICC offers a wide variety of fine arts classes at our Clinton, Muscatine and Scott campuses. Dive into printmaking, drawing, painting and more! Take courses for your degree or for fun. Learn more about our fine arts programs at