Najee Dorsey's 'Women of Color' Acquired by Atlanta Mayor's Office

Updated: Jun 8, 2018


Najee Dorsey is an internationally acclaimed visual artist and entrepreneur. A native of Arkansas, Dorsey moved to Columbus several years ago to continue exploring his work as the owner of Black Art in America (BAIA), a leading online portal and network focused on African American Art.


BAIA has developed into the top international community for lovers of African American Art, and Dorsey manages the company along with his team based out of Columbus. Featuring everything from stories on collecting to exhibit openings, BAIA promotes the work of African American artists across the globe. It's no small venture, either. BAIA averages over half a million visitors per month to its social channels, and hails regular readers from over 100 countries.


Dorsey is more than an entrepreneur and expert on African-American Art, though. His own work is featured in galleries across the nation, and he often curates multiple exhibits a year for major galleries across the nation.


Originally, Dorsey garnered the attention of collectors with his mixed media works. Now he is known for his work across multiple mediums. Dorsey's work encompasses many themes, but he is most famous for featuring little-known and unsung historical figures, as well as nostalgic scenes from African American life in the southern United States.


Beautiful's Today and Tomorrow

from 'Women of Color'

16" x 20" pigment print on premium archival paper

Najee Dorsey, 2017


Although his work is on display in galleries and private collections across the nation, Dorsey did not have much of a following in Atlanta. Then, this Spring Dorsey received an important phone call. His series entitled "Women of Color" had been purchased by the Atlanta Mayor's Office of Cultural Affairs to be showcased on permanent display in the Mayor's Office lobby. Dorsey was amazed.


Kevin Sip, one of the curators at the Office of Cultural Affairs was quite familiar with Dorsey's work. Dorsey knew him from his time spent in Atlanta, so he wasn't surprised when Sip's number showed up on his phone.


"I started out in Atlanta when I moved to Atlanta in 2005, but not many places picked up my work," said Dorsey. "When Sip reached out, I was excited to hear from him. He told me that he felt as though the city needed to have my work represented in their collection."


Since they didnt have a piece from Dorsey, Sip suggested to the committee that they consider Dorsey's work. They visited BAIA's website to view some of his images, and it was a perfect fit.


Dorsey is humbled to have been chosen. "It’s a new mayor in Atlanta. She’s an African-American woman, and so those images just spoke to the committee," he said.


Butterflies

from 'Women of Color'

16" x 20" pigment print on premium archival paper

Najee Dorsey, 2017


"The interesting thing about this body of work is that it’s a limited edition portfolio. Believe it or not, I came out with that collection last year and I only printed up four portfolios. The other three are all owned by collectors in Columbus. Audrey Tillman, Venus and Woodrow Williams, and Dr. Sandra Anderson. So, of all of the portfolios I did of this work, three are in Columbus and this one ended up in Atlanta," said Dorsey. "I think that's pretty incredible."


The series is a body of work entitled "Women of Color." Dorsey said the work is all about honoring women from the community. Many of them Dorsey does not know, but he wanted to honor beautiful black African-American women that were representative of the women he grew up around.


"Many of the images came from individuals that I saw when I was out and about," said Dorsey. "I would be somewhere and there would just be something about them that was striking to me, so I would ask them if I could take their photograph and include them in future work." And he did.


Strollers Spring

from 'Women of Color'

16" x 20" pigment print on premium archival paper

Najee Dorsey, 2017


The women featured in the body of work are mostly strangers, but Dorsey did know one of the figures. "One of the women is actually my cousin who is a former model that now works in the entertainment industry in Atlanta," he said. "Her name is Tonnie Falkenberry."


Other than that of his cousin, Dorsey pulled from his image archives to select the photographs he wanted to use. He worked from those photographs to create the images, and ended up with a collection of eight figures.


Nicole

from 'Women of Color'

16" x 20" pigment print on premium archival paper

Najee Dorsey, 2017


The series was a little different for Dorsey, because it was the result of a challenge.


"Clay Bailey, a former CSU student, was interning with BAIA as the first Artist in Residence at our Gallery," Dorsey explained. "She said, 'You know, you stay within your comfort zone. Do something different.' So Clay was the reason this work came about. She passed away last year, sadly. But I want people to know that she inspired this work."


Gale

from 'Women of Color'

16" x 20" pigment print on premium archival paper

Najee Dorsey, 2017


The process was different as well. Dorsey went from the narrative driven work that is his norm, to focusing primarily on the figure. In addition, he changed his palette and worked with more of an

abstract background for each of the images.


The Mayor's Office has already put "Women of Color" on display. The portfolio they purchased is a collection of six works that will remain in the permanent collection of the Office of Cultural Affairs.


Dorsey is thrilled to have his work in such a prominent place. "I mean, it’s an honor. The crazy part about it is that while I’ve been extremely successful all over the country, I haven’t done much in Atlanta," he said. "I mean, I was in a group show in Atlanta and my work is in the prestigious Clark Atlanta University Collection, but for the length of time that I spent in Atlanta, it’s not a lot. So to have 'Women of Color' in the Mayor’s collection is an awesome honor."


The artist also said that he is encouraged about the medium the Mayor's Office purchased. "It’s exciting that it’s a digital portfolio because it speaks to the variety of works and mediums that I do," Dorsey explained. "Most people know me for my mixed media work, so for my digital work to start finding its place in major collections is exciting. Digital work can be harder for some people. Many of them get so used to seeing my mixed media work that it’s easy for the digital work to go on the back burner at times."


LaTonya

from 'Women of Color'

16" x 20" pigment print on premium archival paper

Najee Dorsey, 2017


This wasn't the first digital collection Dorsey has sold, though. Clark Atlanta University Museum was the first institution to collect his digital work, and the second was the University of Arkansas Library Collection.


"For the Mayor’s office in Atlanta to pick up my digital work really speaks to not only the work, but where things are going within the field," said Dorsey. "Things are expanding in terms of what people are willing to acquire, and that’s a trend that I believe will continue."


All in all, Dorsey is excited and encouraged about the impact the work could have while it's on display in the Mayor's Office. "A lot of people will see it, and it will be there for a long time," he said. "and that means a lot to me. It's an honor." ◼︎



Connect with Najee Dorsey:

NajeeDorsey.com

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