MARCH 19, 1890


Prophet, born in Warwick, Rhode Island (RI), attended RI School of Design and, in 1918, became its 1st graduate of color. Facing racism, she left for Paris in 1922 to study sculpture. Her work began to sell by the late 1920s and, in 1929, she won the Harmon Foundation prize. With the help of W.E.B. DuBois, her work got into U.S. exhibitions and she returned in 1932 and won the 1932 Best in Show prize from the Newport Art Association. In 1935 & 1937, Nancy participated in the Whitney Museum Sculpture Biennials & the 1940 Sculpture International Exhibition at Philadelphia Museum of Art. Her sculpture, Congolaise, was among the first works by an African American acquired by the Whitney. Moving to Atlanta, she taught art at Spelman College, a historically black liberal arts college for women, and helped found the department of art and art history. Prophet returned to Providence in 1945 and had her final exhibit at the Providence Public Library that year. She died in Providence, December 13, 1960.

Source: “Women's History Month: Nancy Elizabeth Prophet,” Redwood Library & Athenæum, 3/8/2017.  Retrieved 6/14/2021, Women's History Month: Nancy Elizabeth Prophet | Redwood Library and Athenæum
Photo: Kenneth Space (1903-1971), 1936-37. Copyright status in the U.S. undetermined, however, no use restrictions.  Source: Elizabeth Prophet, sculptress and teacher ( The Harmon Foundation Collection: Kenneth Space Photographs of the Activities of Southern Black Americans, compiled 1936 – 1937. This media is available in the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration, cataloged under the National Archives Identifier (NAID) 559226

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