Nancy Elizabeth Prophet: Rhode Island Black Artist
As part of Gallery Night Providence, on Thursday April 17, The Rhode Island Historical Society,in partnership with the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, hosts an opening reception for an exhibit on Rhode Island sculptor Nancy Elizabeth Prophet, RISD’s first African American graduate in 1918. The multi-sensory exhibit draws on artifacts from Rhode Island College, RISD, Brown University’s John Hay Library, the Newport Art Museum and the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society, using photographs, letters, art and audio selections from Prophet’s Paris dairy. A replica of Prophet’s studio and a pedestal with unmodeled clay will allow viewers to be aspiring sculptors. Museum goers may also explore 1920s Paris and Providence through items from the Society’s collection. The exhibit is funded by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities and sponsored by Opera Providence.
Upon graduating from RISD, Prophet attempted exhibiting in regional galleries, but when her skin color became a bar to entrance, Prophet chose to go Paris to study sculpture at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts under financial assistance from Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney. After twelve years and international acclaim, Prophet returned to the states to teach art at Spelman College in Atlanta. In 1945, coming back to Rhode Island, she attempted to revive her career, but other than an exhibit at the Providence Public Library, she was forced to resort to domestic work and died in obscurity.
For more information about the exhibit, visit rihs.org email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Gallery Night guided tours, see Gallery Night Providence.