“Stickball Alley” by Kadir Nelson

 

THERE IS A REAL SENSE OF NOSTALGIA in Kadir Nelson‘s image of a young African American boy in a striped shirt and blue cap emblazoned with a “B.” Holding a stick drawn back toward his right shoulder, he stares intently awaiting the pitch of the ball. In the background, his friends look on in anticipation.

Nelson’s “Stickball Alley” is featured on the April 30 edition of The New Yorker magazine. The cover is incredibly personal. He told Françoise Mouly, The New Yorker’s art editor: “I’m a big fan of baseball history and Jackie Robinson, and I wanted to create an image that celebrated Robinson, baseball, and New York. What better way to connect all three than with a stickball game, set in the nineteen-fifties, with the Brooklyn Bridge in the backdrop?”

“I wanted to create an image that celebrated Robinson, baseball, and New York. What better way to connect all three than with a stickball game, set in the nineteen-fifties, with the Brooklyn Bridge in the backdrop?” — Kadir Nelson

He added: “I actually grew up in south New Jersey and San Diego, but I attended art school at Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn. When I was eighteen, my father drove me from Atlantic City to Brooklyn to visit the campus the summer before my freshman year. As soon as we crossed over the bridge and I set foot on Brooklyn pavement, it was like coming home. I love the energy of the city. It’s where I found my stride.”

Los Angeles-based Nelson is the only African American illustrator who regularly creates covers for the magazine recognized for its iconic cover images. His previous covers have included portraits of Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, a tribute to the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture featuring Harlem Renaissance figures, and a contemporary rendering of the magazine’s icon Eustace Tilley. CT

 

BOOKSHELF
Kadir Nelson has collaborated on a number of children’s books, many of them focusing a important historical figures, including Nelson Mandela, Harriet Tubman, and Martin Luther King Jr. Nelson authored, “Change Has Come: An Artist Celebrates Our American Spirit,” a book for young people featuring his black and white illustrations, as a tribute to President Obama upon his election. Most recently a illustrated “Blue Sky White Stars,” which is a tribute to the beauty and symbolism of the American flag.

 

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