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Akron Art Library

Kadir Nelson, Mood Indigo, 2004

Kadir Nelson, Mood Indigo, 2004 - Artist’s proof, Giclée on paper

About the Artist

Kadir Nelson
American, born 1974, Washington D.C.
Lives in San Diego, California

This image serves as the cover of Kadir Nelson’s book ellington was not a street, which won the prestigious Coretta Scott King Award in 2005. In this book, Nelson brings to life Ntozake Shange’s poem, “Mood Indigo.” In it, Shange recalls her childhood home and the close-knit group of innovators such as Paul Robeson, W.E.B. DuBois, Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington who gathered there. Nelson depicts these people from a child’s perspective, towering over her, and shows us what it was like to listen “in the company of men / politics as necessary as collards / music even in our dreams.” Nelson says his own childhood experiences and those of his two young daughters greatly influence his work.

Nelson has illustrated several bestselling picture books, including We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, which he also authored. He is also well known for his cover illustrations for The New Yorker magazine and the rap artist Drake’s Nothing was the Same record cover. Find his work at: