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Nancy Elizabeth Prophet

Artist 188

Nancy Elizabeth Prophet


Nancy Elizabeth Prophet (born 1890 - 1960) was an African-American artist, known for her sculpture.

She was the first African-American graduate from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1918 and later studied at L'Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris during the early 1920s.

She became noted for her work in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1934, Prophet began teaching at Spelman College, expanding the curriculum to include modeling and history of art and architecture.

In 1922, Prophet moved to Paris, in part frustrated by the racism rampant in the American art scene. Despite being broke and exhausted, she was creatively invigorated by the change of scenery and began creating sculptural portraits from materials including wood, marble, bronze, plaster and clay.

While in Paris, Prophet kept a journal that detailed her struggles with poverty as she tried to find work as an artist. She arrived in Paris in 1922 with just $380.

"...This thing money or the lack of it is too crushing. It keeps me from working when I should be expressing that which I learn from each day lived....Sculpture is an expensive medium, I know, but I have not chosen my medium of expression; it has chosen me. What more can I say? I want to work. I want to work. I must work. I live for that alone." - Prophet from her Parisian journal written in the 1920s.

I find her very inspiring in her dedication to her art. Funding in art is a universal problem and her bravery and dedication echo through time.

Sources Consulted:…/e…/us_58a499b2e4b094a129f1513c/amp……/womens-history-month-nancy…


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