Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson

Kadir Nelson began drawing at age 3, displaying artistic acumen before he could even write or spell. “I have always been an artist,” Nelson explains. “It’s part of my DNA.” At age eleven, Nelson was apprenticed by his uncle, an artist and an art instructor. “My uncle gave me my foundation in art,” says the artist. Nelson experimented with several different mediums and later began painting in oils at age sixteen under the encouragement and tutelage of his uncle and his high school art teacher. He began entering his paintings in art competitions and ultimately won an art scholarship to study at the prestigious Pratt Institute of Brooklyn, NY. Upon graduating with honors, Nelson began his professional career as an artist, publishing his works and receiving commissions from publishers and production studios such as Dreamworks, Nike, Sports Illustrated, Coca-Cola, The New York Times, The New Yorker and Major League Baseball, among others. Nelson also exhibited his works in galleries and museums throughout the United States and abroad including the Simon Weisenthal Center, Museum of Tolerance and the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences in Los Angeles, The Museum of African American History in Detroit, The Negro League Baseball Museum in Kansas City, The Society of Illustrators and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, The Bristol Museum in England, The Citizen’s Gallery of Yokohama, Japan and the Center for Culture of Tijuana, Mexico. Many of his paintings can be found in the private collections of actors, sports figures and musicians including Debbie Allen, Jalen Rose, Spike Lee, Terry Lewis, Venus Williams, Will Smith and Jada Pinkett-Smith and Ice Cube. His paintings have also decorated the sets of television sitcoms “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and “The Jamie Foxx Show,” as well as feature films “Friday” and “Set it Off.” Most notably, Nelson was the “Conceptual Artist” for Steven Spielberg’s feature film, “Amistad,” and the animated feature “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.” Recently, Nelson collaborated with several authors on a series of picture books. Presently, eight children’s books are in print including Debbie Allen’s DANCING IN THE WINGS, Deloris and Roslyn Jordan’s SALT IN HIS SHOES, PLEASE, BABY, PLEASE, by Spike and Tonya Lewis Lee and Will Smith’s JUST THE TWO OF US, for which Nelson won an NAACP Image Award. Currently, Nelson is planning a tribute book about the Negro Baseball Leagues. Although Nelson works in a variety of styles, he always retains a sense of identity and focus in his work. Nelson’s work is instantly recognizable by the emotion and strength of his varied subject matter. “My work is all about healing and giving people a sense of hope and nobility. I want to show the strength and integrity of the human spirit.” That is exactly the feeling one walks away with after viewing one of Nelson’s paintings–a feeling that runs all the way down to your DNA.

 

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