Nelson Stevens E + V = C 1972 Pen, ink, colored pencil, watercolor on paper 25.5 x 20.5 in.
Early in his training, Nelson Stevens (American; b. 1938) found himself in the position of having to prove to his professors in the Art Department that there is in fact such a thing as “Black Art." Asserting that prejudice did indeed exist in the art world, he refuted the popular “art for art sake" paradigm, insisting instead that “art is for the sake of people."
Educated at Ohio University (BFA 1962) and Kent State University (MFA 1969), Stevens has always advocated for and promoted aesthetic integrity within the Black community, catapulting numerous groundbreaking projects that are rooted in a strong philosophy concerning the cultural currency of African Americans. His signature style, which applies bold color, unexpected lines, and unabashed tributes to historical and contemporary iconic figures, is well known to many.
Stevens was an early member of the pioneering Chicago organization AfriCOBRA along with other renowned artists such as Wadsworth Jarrell, Jeff Donaldson and Adger Cowans. AfriCOBRA used what they called “coolade colors” to create empowering images of African Americans. In the top right corner of this drawing Stevens has written the word uhuru, which means “freedom” in Swahili, and the choice of language signaled the group’s Afrocentric politics.
Today artworks by Nelson Stevens are in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. His work is included in the exhibition Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power, organized by Tate Britain, and currently touring many American museums.
The work offered here is presented framed and ready for your immediate enjoyment. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.