Detroiter honors ‘spirit keepers’ of families through art

They are the tapestry of family. The epitome of home. Grandmothers are the cornerstone and spirit of Black American society, evoking tradition, love, recipes and remedies.

Sabrina Nelson’s grandmothers took care of her from the kitchen, imparting wisdom passed down for generations and teaching her how to heal herself and pray.

“They remind us of the old ways so that we cannot disrespect them,” Nelson said, “and that we can also survive based on their stories.”

Sabrina Nelson stands next her sister, Kim Dowdell, in front of a painting in Nelson’s “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother” exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Nelson and Dowdell have a reverence for their elders and a special place in their hearts for their grandmothers. (Photo courtesy of Sabrina Nelson) BridgeDetroit reporter Bryce Huffman looks at a piece in Sabrina Nelson’s “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother” art show at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. (Photo by Sabrina Nelson)Detroit artist Sabrina Nelson is behind “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother,” an art exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Nelson said she wanted to honor the contributions of grandmothers in her family and others. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)Detroit artist Sabrina Nelson is behind “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother,” an art exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Nelson said she wanted to honor the contributions of grandmothers in her family and others. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)Detroit artist Sabrina Nelson is behind “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother,” an art exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Nelson said she wanted to honor the contributions of grandmothers in her family and others. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)Detroit artist Sabrina Nelson is behind “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother,” an art exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Nelson said she wanted to honor the contributions of grandmothers in her family and others. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)Detroit artist Sabrina Nelson is behind “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother,” an art exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Nelson said she wanted to honor the contributions of grandmothers in her family and others. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)Detroit artist Sabrina Nelson is behind “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother,” an art exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Nelson said she wanted to honor the contributions of grandmothers in her family and others. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)Detroit artist Sabrina Nelson is behind “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother,” an art exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Nelson said she wanted to honor the contributions of grandmothers in her family and others. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)Detroit artist Sabrina Nelson is behind “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother,” an art exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Nelson said she wanted to honor the contributions of grandmothers in her family and others. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)Detroit artist Sabrina Nelson is behind “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother,” an art exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Nelson said she wanted to honor the contributions of grandmothers in her family and others. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)Detroit artist Sabrina Nelson is behind “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother,” an art exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Nelson said she wanted to honor the contributions of grandmothers in her family and others. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)Detroit artist Sabrina Nelson is behind “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother,” an art exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Nelson said she wanted to honor the contributions of grandmothers in her family and others. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)Detroit artist Sabrina Nelson is behind “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother,” an art exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Nelson said she wanted to honor the contributions of grandmothers in her family and others. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)Detroit artist Sabrina Nelson is behind “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother,” an art exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Nelson said she wanted to honor the contributions of grandmothers in her family and others. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)Detroit artist Sabrina Nelson is behind “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother,” an art exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Nelson said she wanted to honor the contributions of grandmothers in her family and others. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)Detroit artist Sabrina Nelson is behind “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother,” an art exhibit at the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Nelson said she wanted to honor the contributions of grandmothers in her family and others. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)

The Detroit artist and grandmother of two is now paying tribute to her matriarchs and has invited a collection of others to do the same through the art exhibition “I Had a Prayin’ Grandmother.”

BridgeDetroit’s Bryce Huffman talked with Nelson about her inspiration and where you can see her works.

https://www.bridgedetroit.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/10/I-Had-a-Prayin-Grandmother-Art-Show_mixdown-fixed.mp3

Bryce Huffman is a reporter for BridgeDetroit. He was formerly a reporter for Michigan Radio, and host of the podcast, Same Same Different.
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