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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, Nelson was apprenticed by his uncle Michael Morris, an artist and art instructor. “My uncle gave me my foundation in art,” says the artist. 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, 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. 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 “Beauty Shop.” Most notably, Nelson was the "Conceptual Artist" for Steven Spielberg's feature film, "Amistad," and the Oscar nominated animated feature "Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron." .

Among 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 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. 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 Nelson’s paintings--a feeling that runs all the way down to your DNA.

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Abikanile's Prayer by Kadir Nelson Cooool Papa Bell Humility by Kadir Nelson Steerack (Strike) by Kadir Nelson
Abikanile's Prayer
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Cooool Papa Bell
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Steerack! (Strike)
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Limited Edition Giclee Limited Edition Print Limited Edition Print Limited Edition Print
The Anatomy of Team Handball by Kadir Nelson
The Anatomy of Team Handball
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Limited Edition Print