Nic Nicosia to Create Public Art Sculpture for Sam Houston State University

by Jessica Fuentes August 9, 2023

Texas State University System’s (TSUS) Public Art Program recently announced that it has commissioned Nic Nicosia to create a public art work for the Sam Houston State University (SHSU) recreational sports building expansion in Huntsville. 

A black and white photograph of artist Nic Nicosia, taken by photographer Kevin Todora.

Portrait of artist Nic Nicosia. Photo: Kevin Todora.

In 2021, SHSU announced a major renovation and expansion of its Recreation Sports Center to accommodate the school’s growing student body. The project includes a 9,100-square-foot addition as well as renovations to the already existing site, which totals 21,575 square feet. The public art component pulls funding both from the construction budget and from a second construction project for a total budget of $85,000. The stated goal of the public art piece was for it to showcase wellness, achievement, or use of the body.

Marjorie Flanagan, Director of Public Art at TSUS, told Glasstire “The public art opportunity was an invitational paid request for proposals.” She explained that Frances Bagley, Susan Budge, Sherry Owens and Art Shirer, David Hickman, and Mr. Nicosia were invited to submit a proposal. Each artist or artist team was paid a stipend of $1,500 for their work. A committee consisting of representatives from across the SHSU campus, including students and alumni, interviewed the artists and selected Mr. Nicosia as the commissioned artist, with the team of Ms. Owens and Mr. Shirer as an alternative.

In a press release, Dr. Ron Shields, Dean of the College of Arts and Media at SHSU, stated, “Mr. Nicosia’s sculptural design evokes joy and gratitude. We are certainly excited to see the artwork come to life. SHSU values art education and feels lucky that our public art collection will grow as our campus grows.”

Mr. Nicosia is a Dallas-based photographer and sculptor. He holds a BS in Radio-TV-Film from the University of North Texas with a concentration in motion pictures. His work is in museum collections across the United States, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, and the Dallas Museum of Art. His most recent Texas exhibition was a show of new works presented earlier this year at Erin Cluley Gallery in Dallas. 

Mr. Nicosia’s proposed sculpture, A Big Thank You, depicts a nude male figure gracefully bowing. Ms. Flanagan noted that the piece embodies “grace, strength, beauty of motion, and the performance of all athletes.” 

A photograph of a sculpture by Nic Nicosia of a nude male figure bowing gracefully. The image also includes measurements that indicate the sculpture's size of 10 feet tall by 11 feet wide.

Nic Nicosia, “A Big Thank You.” Image courtesy of Texas State University’s Public Art Program.

She added, “The figure evokes the joy and praise of a final bow, appreciates the theatrical elements of sport and how kindness to our bodies can be achieved through all physical movement.”

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