The Art & Storytelling of Claire A. Nivola

April 22 - November 5, 2023
Central Gallery

This exhibition showcases the career of artist-author Claire A. Nivola. Nivola’s subjects range from the personal—stories of her family—to chronicles of prominent women like poet Emily Dickinson, author Emma Lazarus, oceanographer Sylvia Earle, and Nobel Laureate Wangari Maathai. As an artist, Nivola combines exquisite color, complex patterning, and attention to detail, all on an intimate scale. She builds her landscapes with delicate, dappled brushstrokes and fills her interior scenes—often viewed through doorways and windows—with endless details that keep readers engaged. In the guise of paintings-within-paintings, Nivola includes art historical references to Piero della Francesca, Henri Matisse, and others in her illustrations. 

Curated by H. Nichols B. Clark.

What to Expect 

The exhibition comprises 60 watercolor, gouache, and graphite illustrations from nine picture books, as well as a selection of preliminary materials that underscore Nivola’s intense research and process. Guests are invited to make still life drawings inspired by objects found in Nivola’s illustrations. 

Illustration of countryside.
Claire A. Nivola, Illustration for Planting the Trees of Kenya: The Story of Wangari Maathai (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Collection of the artist. © 2008 Claire A. Nivola.
Illustration of scuba diver in reef.
Claire A. Nivola, Illustration for Life in the Ocean: The Story of Oceanographer Sylvia Earle (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). Collection of the artist. © 2012 Claire A. Nivola.
Explore Further
Story Board

Claire A. Nivola introduces young readers to the power of determination.

News & Press
Claire A. Nivola introduces young readers to inspiring women in history.
A special gallery tour just for Museum Members!
Enjoy a gallery tour with artist Claire A. Nivola!
Create a painting about a place you love.

In the Bookshop

Star Child

Planting the Trees of Kenya

The Mouse of Amherst

The Secret Kingdom

Life in the Ocean