ABOUT KADIR NELSON
(Courtesy of Kadir Nelson)
Kadir Nelson began drawing at the age of three, displaying
artistic acumen before he could write or spell. “I have always been an artist,”
Nelson explains. “It’s part of my DNA.” At age eleven, Kadir Nelson was
apprenticed by his uncle Michael Morris, an artist and art instructor. “My uncle
gave me my foundation in art,” says the artist. Kadir Nelson experimented with
several different media and later began painting in oils at the age of sixteen
under the encouragement and tutelage of both his uncle and high school art
teacher. He began entering his paintings in art competitions and ultimately won
an art scholarship to study at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, NY. Upon graduating
with honors, Kadir Nelson began his professional career as an artist, publishing
his work and receiving commissions from publishers and production studios such
as Dreamworks, Sports Illustrated, Coca-Cola, The New York Times and Major
League Baseball, among others.
Kadir Nelson also exhibited his work in galleries and museums
throughout the country 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 Smithsonian Anacostia Museum
in Washington DC, 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, professional athletes and musicians including Debbie Allen, Denzel
Washington, Will and Jada Smith, Ananda Lewis, Jalen Rose, Spike and Tonya Lee,
Terry Lewis, Ray Allen, Venus Williams, Queen Latifah 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,” "Set
it Off" and the forthcoming “The Beauty Shop.” Most notably, Kadir Nelson was
the "Conceptual Artist" for Steven Spielberg's feature film, "Amistad," and the
Oscar nominated animated feature "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron."
Among Kadir Nelson’s most recent works are the epic paintings,
“The Life of Marvin Gaye,” “Marvin Gaye,” “Swizz Beatz: Ghetto Stories” and
“Angel,” none of which are smaller than six feet high or wide. Nelson has also
collaborated with several notable authors on a series of picture books.
Presently, ten children's books are in print including Debbie Allen's DANCING IN
THE WINGS, Jerdine Nolen’s Coretta Scott King Honor Book, THUNDER ROSE, Deloris
and Roslyn Jordan's best-seller SALT IN HIS SHOES, PLEASE, BABY, PLEASE, by
Spike and Tonya Lee and Will Smith's JUST THE TWO OF US, for which Kadir Nelson
won an NAACP Image Award. Currently, Nelson is planning a tribute book about the
Negro Baseball Leagues which he is both authoring and illustrating.
Although Nelson works
in a variety of styles, he always retains a sense of identity and focus in his
work. Kadir Nelson’s works are 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 being and the human spirit.” That is exactly the feeling one walks
away with after viewing one of Kadir Nelson’s paintings--a feeling that runs all
the way down to your DNA.
MORE ON KADIR NELSON
"Meet Kadir Nelson"
Kadir Nelson News
Library of Congress Webcast
"Kadir Nelson: 2006 National Book Festival"
Diego Artist wins National Award"
Kadir Nelson Calendar