Tim Nicola was raised on Indian Island, his tribes reservation in the middle of the Penobscot River in Maine. Growing up, Nicola had access to a workshop because his father, grandfather and grandmother were basket makers. In his younger years he carved wood, but knew he wanted to be a painter and drawer. In 1980 He moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico to attend the Institute of American Indian Arts. Although he initially enrolled as a painter, after a short time he became interested in three-dimensional arts to which he became devoted. Primarily working in alabaster, marble and bronze, he most often sculpts graceful, stylized female figures typically bearing baskets of water vessels. "In my work," he explains, "composition, balance, line, rhythm, harmony, movement - all these come into play. Creating these pieces is a love affair - it really is."
In 1955, Nicola's monumental bronze sculpture, The Life Givers, won first place, Best of Division Bronze and Best of Class in Sculpture at Santa Fe's 74th Indian Market. He placed first in stone works in the 75th, 76th and 77th Market and has been awarded numerous other prizes and recognitions throughout his career.