Artistic Excellence 2017 | Honorable Mention: Robin Damore


Robin Damore, Live Long and Prosper, Nichelle Nichols at 84, oil, 36 x 30.

Robin Damore, Live Long and Prosper, Nichelle Nichols at 84, oil, 36 x 30.

The story behind Robin Damore’s winning entry began in 2004, when the professional photographer and painter first met famed actress Nichelle Nichols. On assignment for a book about women with courage, Damore traveled to Los Angeles, CA, to photograph then 72-year-old Nichols, who played Lt. Uhura on the 1960s television series Star Trek. “We just clicked,” says the artist. “She is very funny and very lovely, and I feel grateful to have spent time with her.”

Damore loved her snapshots of Nichols so much that she used them to complete an oil painting of the well-loved star. “I took the painting with me wherever I went,” she says. “I couldn’t believe how many people recognized Nichelle and were enamored by her.” The painting charmed Nichols herself, who invited the artist to dinner last year at her home. There, Damore snapped new photographs of Nichols that quickly inspired her oil LIVE LONG AND PROSPER. “When I posted it on Facebook, it received tens of thousands of views and over 12,000 shares,” says Damore, who now sells prints of the popular portrait. “People have shared so many stories with me about
what it meant to see an African-American woman in a position of leadership and power on television.”

Damore studied oil painting intensively with Russian artist Leonid Gervits in New York. Today the portrait artist works out of her studio in Vancouver, WA, where she herself teaches oil-painting classes and logs countless hours at her own easel. “My challenge is to capture that quality that makes us each individual,” she says. “In my mind, if the likeness is absent, the portrait has not been successful.” Find Damore’s work at

This story was featured in the December 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art December 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Subscribe to Southwest Art magazine
Learn how to paint & how to draw with downloads, books, videos & more from North Light Shop
Sign up for your Southwest Art email newsletter & download a FREE ebook