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Everyday Heroes: Najee Dorsey

Black Art In America

During the pandemic lockdown, many Atlanta art galleries expanded into the digital space. The trend has continued, giving local galleries a national and international audience.

Najee Dorsey, however, bucked the trend. He did the reverse.

The artist and entrepreneur, already established as founder of a successful website devoted to Black art (Forbes magazine did a profile on him in January 2020), made plans during the pandemic to build a gallery in Atlanta. He wanted to create a gathering place for artists and art lovers. This year, he realized his dream.

Credit: Photo Courtesy of Najee Dorsey

Credit: Photo Courtesy of Najee Dorsey

He and his wife Seteria converted an old building in East Point into a vibrant gallery space and garden. The opening, spread over one weekend in June 2022, was a bustling mix of events for both collectors and the casual art lover.

Since then, Black Art in America has presented two exhibits and delivered artists’ talks, a book signing, weekend art classes for young people and seniors, gallery tours and even a farmers’ market.

“It’s very common for people to visit us and next thing you know they’ve returned several times, bringing friends with them,” Dorsey says. “The community is proud of what we have here.”

Black Art in America is now a hybrid enterprise, with Dorsey as its creative CEO. The website is a rich repository of news and information that documents, preserves and promotes the work of Black artists. You’ll find art by well-known artists such as Faith Ringgold, Kerry James Marshall, Alfred Conteh and Delita Martin and legacy artists such as Elizabeth Catlett, Samella Lewis, Romare Bearden and Louis Delsarte.

Dorsey’s business acumen has helped many contemporary artists find success too, among them Ronald Jackson and Khalif Thompson, whose works have skyrocketed in value in just a few years.

He curated a show of contemporary artists that was recently exhibited in Biloxi, Mississippi. In October, he lectured on Black art at The College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Dorsey is also generous. BAIA gave 15 works of art by African American artists to the Columbus Museum in Columbus, where he lives.

During the pandemic, BAIA and Zadig & Voltaire, a luxury fashion brand based in Paris, created the Art is Hope campaign to fund Covid relief and support independent artists: the fashion house donated all the proceeds from one of its collections to BAIA for a two-month stretch, and funded education about Black art.

Dorsey also believes in exposing children to art early in life. In a video on the website, he invites families to visit and pick up a children’s art book.

As an artist, Dorsey explores various aspects of Black culture and Southern narratives and in January 2023 he’ll present an exhibit of his own work at the gallery to celebrate his 50th birthday.

The Black Art in America gallery is a 21st century gathering place, the way that Hammonds House Museum was for many artists and art lovers in the latter part of the 20th century.

They both have a place in Atlanta’s visual arts firmament, but Dorsey’s enthusiasm, business savvy and seemingly limitless energy are placing him front and center of the growing awareness of, and value of, Black art in Atlanta and beyond.

HOW TO HELP

To learn more about Black Art in America, visit https://www.blackartinamerica.com/.

Follow them on Instagram at @blackartinamerica_.


WE’RE STRONGER TOGETHER: A SPECIAL PROJECT

This place we call home is filled with ordinary people who accomplish extraordinary feats. Their selfless acts make this region so special – and they bring out the best in all of us. With the holidays upon us, we wanted to share their inspiring stories, celebrate their accomplishments, and offer ways that you can help.

Just as the 55 people we’re profiling can’t do it alone, nor can we. That’s why we worked closely with our partners to bring you this collection of uplifting stories.

We hope they leave you feeling inspired and ready to tackle the busy new year that lies ahead.

We hope they make you feel more connected to your community or to your neighbors.

And maybe, just maybe, they will motivate you to come up with your own small way to make a big difference in the lives of others.

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