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“FRONTLINE PROPHET: JAMES BALDWIN” A traveling exhibition by Sabrina Nelson

March 1 @ 6:00 pm - April 27 @ 6:00 pm


A traveling exhibition by Sabrina Nelson

Co-curated by Ashara Ekundayo and Omo Misha with Eric Murphy

March 1 – April 27, 2024 (In the Front Gallery)

Opening Reception: Friday, March 1st | 6-9pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, March 2nd | 1:30pm – 4pm​
Winter in America: The SpeakEasy – Bold, Black & Brilliant: The Baldwin Edition Wednesday, April 3, 2024 | 6:00 – 8:30pm

Frontline Prophet: James Baldwin is a year-long traveling exhibition featuring the artwork of Detroit-based creative, Sabrina Nelson. A professional interdisciplinary artist for over 37 years, Nelson works across several forms and uses both visual and performing arts as conduits for activism. The exhibition highlights the artist’s deeply personal perspectives on the iconic writer through a seven-year sketchbook study, vivid works on paper and canvas, projected video, and installations. The title, pinned by curator Ashara Ekundayo, is inspired by theologian and author Dr. Cornel West’s distinction of a prophet from a leader. He states that “a leader is somebody who has to jump in the middle of the fray and be prudential, while a prophetic person tells the truth, exposes lies, bears witness and then, usually, is pushed to the margins.” In Baldwin’s case, he employs a Black prophetic tradition to design and present a number of pristine and acute considerations on white supremacy to deconstruct the American Dream. Nelson, in her more than forty unique depictions of Baldwin and his contemporaries, captures a quintessential understanding of this process and identity, providing a setting for us to fully and critically investigate these questions. The work further presents imagery and text culled from the lectures, writings, and social-political themes Baldwin professed in his work on critical culture, identity, race, and sexuality. Nelson, through her energetic artistry amplifies and celebrates the legacy of one of the world’s most prominent Black writers and thinkers by humanizing his experience not only as an intellect, but as a creative, a global citizen, a joyful spirit, and a timeless guide into the future.

Sabrina Nelson has been a professional interdisciplinary artist for over 37 years, exhibiting throughout the Midwest and in Florida, New York, Louisiana, California, and Paris, France. She works in a variety of media and styles – from painting, drawing and sculpture, to art installations, performances, and more. Nelson is also an educator, lecturer, and ‘artivist’—using her art as a medium for activism. She has been with the College for Creative Studies, College of Art & Design in Arts Administration for 27 years and with the Detroit Institute of Arts Education Department for 26 years. She has taught African American Art History at CCS and Oakland University, served on the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp faculty and as guest curator for the Carr Center and the Detroit Music Hall Performing Arts Center. She earned her BFA in Fine Arts from CCS in 1991. She is a Kresge Arts Fellow for 2021-2022. Her work was featured on PBS in 2020 & 2022.

Project collaborators – Artist As First Responder, African American Museum & Library Oakland, Alameda County Behavioral Health Care Services and more.


March 1 @ 6:00 pm
April 27 @ 6:00 pm
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Joyce Gordon Gallery
406 14th St
Oakland, CA 94612 United States
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