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Professor Emeritus in the Department of Art and Art History, fabric artist, and collector Alvin Nickel died at his home in Austin on August 27. Mr. Nickel, a native of Wisconsin, was trained at the highly esteemed School of the Art Institute of Chicago (BAE and MAE). He served as Crafts Director for the U.S. government in Germany and designed for the Container Corporation of American and for Marshall Field and Company before being recruited in 1960 to teach at The University of Texas at Austin. In his fabric design and art education classes, and in his guidance of future art teachers, Mr. Nickel was known as an enthusiastic mentor and tireless supporter of students and their work.
In his own work using the resist technique of batik, Mr. Nickel created powerful wall hangings ranging from three feet to nine feet in length. He designed directly with the brush, without preliminary drawing on the fabric. His designs spoke through color relationships and patterns, and the results provoked and delighted the eye of the viewer. An article about Mr. Nickel's work in Designers West featured his series “Sun Totems” in which he deftly used variations of a sun symbol and color to convey the palpable heat of the sun. The reviewer declared that each piece in the series was both forceful and distinctive. Mr. Nickel's work has been presented in numerous major exhibitions including The American Craft Council, Survey of Contemporary American Crafts, and Southwest Crafts Biennial.
Mr. Nickel traveled widely and collected folk arts and crafts, particularly those of Indonesia