Steve Prince, Rosa Sparks, 2017


In Rosa Sparks, self-proclaimed art evangelist Steve A. Prince presents a tableau of black experience in America by recreating the momentous event in Montgomery, Alabama, where Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to white passengers. At the front of the bus, a haloed Parks sits defiantly in response to the standing bus driver’s gesture that she move to the back. At the left, a line of figures, some in silhouette, represent the experiences of black Americans—from the chains of slavery to present-day threats of gun violence. They are joined by references to others inspired by Rosa's spark, civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. A rider at the back of the bus holds a Bible turned to Matthew 5:3–10. This passage describes the  Beatitudes, beginning with "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven...."

His work is an unending exploration of that faith and its relationship to his life, his culture and his community. "We are all living epistles," notes Prince, “whether we want to be or not." His work is an open letter to Americans calling them "to acknowledge their role within the fabric of the American family and to redress race, representation, and education with a new raiment woven of respect, truth and equality."

Prince is a native of New Orleans. He earned his BFA from Xavier University of Louisiana and his MFA from Michigan State University. He has shown his work internationally in various solo, group, and juried exhibitions including the Contemporary Art Center of Virginia, the National Gallery of the Bahamas, the Museum of Cultural Arts Center (Santa Catarina, Brazil), the Grand Rapids Museum of Art, the Portsmouth Courthouse Museum, Hampton University Museum, the Museum of African American Culture (New Orleans), and the Peninsula Fine Arts Center.