Nellie Ashford (born c. 1943) is a self-taught folk artist from Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Her mixed-media folk art depicts the experiences of Charlotte’s African-American community during the era of Jim Crow in the U.S. South.
Early life and education
Ashford grew up in a rural part of Mecklenburg County, and attended school in a segregated four-room schoolhouse. She later graduated from Plato Prince High School and earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and social science from Shaw University. She is self-trained as an artist.
Her work has been featured in a number of special exhibits since at least the early 2000s. She participated in a 2004 juried art show for the Afro-American Cultural Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, for which she earned the curator's recognition award. In 2010, her show "Nellie's People" was featured at the Delta Arts Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 2013, her work was displayed at the Gaston County Museum in Dallas, North Carolina. The Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts+Culture hosted her first major-museum, solo exhibit in 2016. According to the Gantt Center, the solo exhibit, titled "Nellie Ashford: Through My Eyes," communicates "cultural identity, shared community values and aesthetics."
She is a four-time recipient of the Actors Theatre award and a recipient of the Priscilla Literary Award. In 2007, she was named the Harvey B. Gantt Center's (then known as the Afro-American Cultural Center) artist of the year.
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