Nicki Stager


2023 / Still at it! Andrea and I have been pretty consistently making more work through the mail, so I figured it’s time for an update. It’s been such a joyful collaborative experience to work together and now we’re up to about half a dozen pieces that we both feel happy to put into the world.

2022 / Rachel Reist and I met at a mutual cousin’s wedding in the mountains of Montana in the summer of 2021. We had a pretty striking chemistry and kept a conversation going even when we left for home–her in Utah, me in Pennsylvania. She proposed commissioning me to make artwork based on one of her favorite Bible verses, Isaiah 61:3. I proposed a collaboration. 

Isaiah 61:To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.

I started the collaboration with a drawing of an imaginary flower. She burned the drawing and sent me the ashes. I used the ashes in my next two pieces which are on their way to Utah as we speak.

2022 / I met Ann Carter at a very special opening for Dan Talley’s work at Wilkes University early in the year. Since then she gifted me with a map of Pennsylvania for a collaborative project. Here’s what’s happened so far…

2019 / Andrea Gilkey and I have been penpals for at least 15 years. We’ve started making artwork together along the way.

2019 / Dabbling with some artists who left their slides in my classroom.

2019 / My niece, Penny, and my nephew, Oscar, are both talented artists and story-tellers. These are two things we worked on at the start of the pandemic.

2017 / My dear friend, Erin Harmon, had an idea for a children’s book that we’re working on. Whether we finish it or not, I’m happy with the initial ideas. 

2015 / One of my close friends and one of the most thoughtful illustrators in the world is Scott Westgate. He and I went on a journey through the world of app design this year and it was wild. Making an app is much more work than I had imagined and I could never have done it without him. The People Watching Game is an app that allows the user to competitively people watch together.

2014 / My parents have gotten really into estate sales. Some people look for particular things every once in a while; my parents look for an estate sale with the spirit of a child looking for an arcade and they often leave with truck-loads of objects. One time they were visiting me in Bethlehem and heard an auctioneer from afar. We followed that voice until we found and joined the bidding. By the end of the day, we had to find a U-Haul truck service to get a majority of the stuff back to their home a few hours away. Meanwhile I had a basement, so some of the objects (along with at least one bat that made his way up to my living space a few nights later) remained there. I found all sorts of tiny little objects that found their way into this piece below. It’s in the collaboration section of my website because it feels like it couldn’t have happened without the couple who passed away, my parents, and me.

2013 / OP stands for orange peacock and my orange peacock is Tessa Tintle. She and I are old friends at this point and we did this work together with retinal photographs. 

2012 / Lauren Huggler did some incredible work in her NAHS career, but the images I feel most attached to are the ones from a collaborative Sol LeWitt tribute we did in a small hallway in my classroom. These are the start and end points of the line drawings we did; we started with straight lines and after following the previously line as closely as we could, the lines got beautifully wavy pretty quickly.

2012 / I worked with Barbara Saltern for just a little while when I started teaching design and photography at Nazareth Area High School. She taught physics down the hall from me. Once I learned that she made intricate lace designs it seemed like we needed to collaborate and make some lace impressions in the darkroom.

2010 / Dan Talley: amazing artist and closest friend. He and I have done a million things together and among those things we’ve made some art installations! Not surprisingly, in this particular installation we explore the depths of human connection.

2010 / Jim Weiss and I did a bunch of collaborative work in the early 2000s. The wildest of our collaborations was scaffolded by creative storytelling; we performed the piece surrounded by a show of my work in early 2010.

2009 / We didn’t actually do anything with this collaboration other than talk about it and make some drawings, but Tien Nguyen and I spend a fair amount of time talking about music and this was a sketch for a music box that would allow for improvisational playing with unconventional instruments.

2009 / Dan Talley and I have always had a rich ongoing conversation about the intersection between life and art and spirit. This project was installed in an old Bethlehem Steel Building and dips its toe in that conversation.

2009 / Among my most artistic penpals were Elizabeth Perry and Sacha Joseph. I wanted to include them here because we made some fun pieces together in 2008-2010.

2006 / I met Nathaniel Cooper in elementary school, but we became quite close in an a very general type of art class in high school. Nathaniel is mostly blind, so I was very interested in his artistic experience. I ended up becoming interested enough to do a thesis project about him and other visually impaired artists when I was getting my MEd. This is the video he and I made together.

1999 – 2004 / Micah Danges and I made a bunch of pieces together when we were at Kutztown for undergrad. We were both spending lots of time in the color darkroom and were, in many ways, kindred overachievers. These were a few of the collaborations we made and eventually showed at a collective space we ran called The Table Space in Philadelphia.