Caldecott Medal winning painter, illustrator, and author, Kadir Nelson, also known for his striking covers for The New Yorker magazine, will present The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation’s annual Marian McFadden Memorial Lecture on Sept. 29, 2022. This event will take place at 7 p.m. at the Madam Walker Legacy Center, 617 Indiana Ave. Nelson will speak about his career, philosophy, and the transformative power of visual art, and after the lecture will be available to sign books for attendees.
Though the event’s free tickets were all claimed within 48 hours of availability, those interested in attending are encouraged to check our website for updates in case more tickets become available.
In addition to his public lecture, Nelson will visit Francis Parker School 56 to speak with students, and each student will receive an autographed hardback copy of the Newbery Honor and Caldecott and Coretta Scott King award-winning book The Undefeated, written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Nelson, courtesy of The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation.
More about Kadir Nelson
Kadir Nelson (b. 1974) is an award-winning American author and artist based in Los Angeles, California. His paintings are in the permanent collections of several notable institutions including the United States House of Representatives, the Muskegon Museum of Art, The National Baseball Hall of Fame, United States Postal Museum, the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland, and most recently, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, the World Trade Center, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Nelson received a BFA from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, and upon graduating with highest honors, he was summoned by DreamWorks Pictures to create conceptual artwork for Steven Spielberg’s Oscar® nominated feature, Amistad and the animated feature, Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron. He is the recipient of multiple awards from the Society of Illustrators in New York, including the prestigious Hamilton King Award as well as the 2020 recipient of the Caldecott Medal and Coretta Scott King Award for illustration. He adds this to multiple Caldecott Honors, Coretta Scott King Author and Illustrator Awards, New York Times Best Illustrated Book Awards, several NAACP Image Awards and an Olympic Art Bronze medal, among others. Mr. Nelson has also created artwork for a host of distinguished clients, including but not limited to National Geographic, HBO, Nike, Disney, Hennessy, and Sony Music, for whom he painted the cover artwork for Michael Jackson’s posthumously released album, Michael, which was listed in the Guinness Book of Records® for the largest poster in the world. Nelson’s artwork was also featured on the cover of recording artist Drake’s multi-platinum selling album, Nothing Was the Same; over a dozen commemorative US postage stamps honoring American legends, such as Major League All-Stars Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, NBA great Wilt Chamberlain, and most recently Motown’s Prince of Soul Marvin Gaye, which altogether have sold several million stamps.
Nelson’s masterful artwork also frequently graces the cover of The New Yorker magazine, paying tribute to historical and contemporary American figures in New York City and abroad, including the magazine’s dandy, Eustace Tilley. Additionally, Nelson has also authored and illustrated several award-winning New York Times Best Selling picture books including, WE ARE THE SHIP: The Story of Negro League Baseball, which was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine, and Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans. Currently, he has over 30 children’s book titles in print with a global circulation in the millions, and in multiple languages. Nelson’s list of illustrated children’s books include titles by Debbie Allen, Will Smith, Spike and Tonya Lee, and Deloris Jordan, mother of NBA great Michael Jordan.
Nelson’s primarily figurative paintings and sculptures focus on historical narratives and heroic subjects in American culture and are often informed by the Old Masters like Ingres, Michelangelo, Hopper, and Tanner. His sumptuous settings and characters, rich palette, and realistic, yet painterly technique speaks to both modern urban realism and masterly works of turn-of-the century American painters.
More about the Marian McFadden Memorial Lecture
The Marian McFadden Memorial Lecture, made possible by Friends of the Library through gifts to The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation, has featured many of the nation’s leading authors, including James Baldwin, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Patricia Cornwell, David McCullough, Neil Gaiman, Khaled Hosseini, Jacqueline Woodson, and Junot Díaz. The most recent lecture was in 2019 and featured New York Times bestselling author, journalist, and Black Panther graphic novel writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. Kadir Nelson was originally scheduled to appear in 2020, but the visit was delayed due to Covid-19. This annual author lecture series was named in honor of Marian McFadden, director of public libraries in Indianapolis from 1945-1956, after The Indianapolis Public Library Foundation received a gift from her estate.