Kadir Nelson Interview- World Trade Center Unveils First Public Artwork of Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor
On May 15, 2019 Artist Kadir Nelson unveiled his bronze sculpture “The MAJOR” at a private event held at 7 World Trade Center in New York City.
The MAJOR was commissioned by Hennessy in 2018 to memorialize the achievements of Marshall ‘Major’ Taylor, part of the debut of the brand’s latest Wild Rabbit campaign that celebrates the theme of pushing one’s potential through stories of extraordinary individuals like Taylor.
Nelson’s paintings are often featured on the covers of The New Yorker magazine. He has also created the album artwork for Drake and Michael Jackson.
During the event, YRB Executive Editor, Jonn Nubian sat down with Kadir Nelson to discuss the artwork.
YRB: Why did you decide to go in a different direction from painting to a doing this sculpture?
Kadir Nelson: Initially Hennessy approached me to create a painting of Marshall Taylor, but I believe at the time, they learned about an existing monument that was vandalized. They wanted to create another physical three-dimensional object that would commemorate him and replace the monument. I have been sculpting since I was in college, so I was eager to create a sculpture to celebrate Marshall Taylor.
YRB: How long did the process take from conception to what you unveiled today?
Kadir Nelson: It took over one year. The sculpting process took about a month. The casting process took quite a while, about 6 to 8 months. Fortunately working with Hennessy was easy and pretty straight forward.
YRB: How does it feel today having your work here in the World Trade Center?
Kadir Nelson: I’m certainly very proud that this bronze sculpture of Marshall Taylor will be on display for the world to see on one of the grandest stage in the world. It will further share his legacy and his story with millions and millions of people who come to this very sacred spot on the Earth. I am very proud to have been able to contribute to that.
YRB: Thank you and Congratulations!
Marshall “Major” Taylor made history competing in a six-day race at Madison Square Garden in 1886 to become the first African-American world champion cyclist (second AfAm world champion in any sport).
More than 100 years after the Major’s six-day ride, Kadir Nelson’s modern-day sculpture immortalizes his infinite determination on one of the city’s biggest stages, the World Trade Center, an elite destination for millions of travelers from all over the world.
“The Major” will be displayed starting later this year near the north entrance of 3 World Trade Center, with the Oculus and National 9/11 Museum in the background.
The sculpture will live in WTC as part of the Silverstein family’s World Trade arts initiative, entitled The Silver Project. Since 9/11, the Silverstein family has provided displaced resident artists with working in studio space at each of the new World Trade Center towers.
Photos by: Lauren Cowart