Artist Spotlight: Najee Dorsey
I was introduced to Najee Dorsey in 2011 when he visited South Florida galleries and art fairs during Art Basel Miami Beach. However, we didn’t officially meet until 2016 but his artwork spoke to me before he did. Mr. Dorsey’s body of work reminds me of my southern roots: images of black life in the United States both through a historical lens and a new future. His friendship is also refreshing and proof that black business owners can work together across organizations and platforms, even if we are in the same niche.Not just an artist, Mr. Dorsey is a real art mogul: the creator of the platform Black Art in America, the owner of Shop BAIA Online, a digital gallery and a mentor to black creatives. Mr. Dorsey agreed to share his work and his life with Sugarcane Magazine’s audience.
Born in Blytheville, Arkansas on January 26, 1973, visual artist and entrepreneur Najee Dorsey is known for embracing southern roots in his work by relaying scenes of African-American life in the south on canvas. He began his journey as an artist at the age of five, selling his artwork to his mother for candy. From that point on, Dorsey continued making art as a favorite pastime. Dorsey’s first endeavor as an aspiring entrepreneur became evident in his earliest business venture selling cinnamon toothpicks at age twelve to his classmates. In High School, Najee earned a partial scholarship in 1991 to Memphis College of Art (later known as the Memphis Academy of Art). He eventually left the institution before completing his first semester due to a combination of financial challenges, and the need for a more dynamic environment. Still, Dorsey continued creating art part-time while working different jobs over the years.
Above: Life’s a Journey by Najee Dorsey
In 2005, Dorsey moved to Atlanta, GA, where he became a full-time artist. Focusing solely on his art resulted in a fruitful career. Now, more than ten years later, his work has been featured in nine museum shows including, Visions of our 44th Collection at the Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit, MI and Leaving Mississippi: Reflections on Heroes and Folklore at the Columbus Museum, Columbus, GA and the African-American Museum in Dallas, TX. Over the years, Dorsey’s changing mediums have resonated with many people, but his consistency in exhibiting imagery rooted in his southern heritage is what Najee Dorsey is known for. Over the past decade, Dorsey’s work has been consistently featured and acquired by many institutions, and private collections across the United States.
Above: Deacons for Defense by Najee Dorsey
Since becoming a full-time artist in 2005, Najee has become well acquainted with the trials and tribulations of most African American artists: the closed doors in the arts community, the lack of representation in art institutions, and the undervaluation of African American art and its creators by dominant society. Being the proactive individual that he is, Najee founded Black Art In America™ (BAIA) in 2010 as a free online media platform for African American artists, collectors, art enthusiasts, and arts professionals. In the company’s conceptual stages, influencers from BAIA’s audience were surveyed and it became apparent that their issues were centered on exposure, appreciation, and access to each other. BAIA™ was founded as a centralized location for profiling the African American artist — giving members of the network access to the work of African American artists (past and contemporary), and most importantly, opportunities for interchange. Since 2010, the network has become the leading online portal and resource focused on African American art, artists, collectors, industry leaders, and arts enthusiasts. The BAIA™ online network currently has a monthly virtual reach of 750,000 people and growing.
Above: B4 Rosa by Najee Dorsey
As an artist, Najee Dorsey has developed much in his craft over the years, and has become known for his mixed media collage, digital media collage images of little known and unsung historical figures, as well as nostalgic scenes from African American life in the southern United States. In his work, as Najee chronicles moments in Black life throughout history, he maintains that, “stories untold are stories forgotten”. Far from the days after dropping out of arts college, and becoming uncertain about his future in the arts, Dorsey has forged a successful career as an artist, being featured in numerous solo and group museum shows, television broadcasts and print publications — a major feat for any artist. As well as these accomplishments, he has skillfully combined his creative edge, and business acumen to develop a steadily growing online community that documents, preserves and promotes the contributions of the African American arts community. Najee now lives in Columbus, GA with his wife, Seteria.
Above: The In-Laws House by Najee Dorsey
You can view more of najee Dorsey’s work here.Click here for reuse options!
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