Sylvia Ann Soares

via Newport Art Museum

On Thursday, June 27, 2019, Newport Art Museum will present “Defiance!“: a dramatic performance on the life of sculptor Nancy Elizabeth Prophet by Sylvia Ann Soares. The performance will begin at 6:00 pm in the Newport Art Museum’s historic John N.A. Griswold House, located on the Museum campus at 76 Bellevue Avenue, Newport, and will be followed by Q&A with Soares. The performance, as well as Museum admission the evening of June 27, is free. Reservations are highly recommended at

In partnership with the Newport Health Equity Zone and in conjunction with the Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney: Sculpture exhibition, the Museum is pleased to welcome actor Sylvia Ann Soares for a dramatic performance entitled “Defiance!”based on the diaries and personal letters of sculptor Nancy Elizabeth Prophet (1890-1960). Prophet, who was African-American-Narragansett-Pequot, faced tremendous challenges as a minority female artist in the early twentieth century. Despite this, Prophet was an accomplished sculptor. She was the first graduate of color from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1918, and studied at L’Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris, with the generous assistance of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney.
 At the Art Association of Newport (now the Newport Art Museum), Prophet found a place of artistic support and a sense of belonging. She was invited to become a member by Maud Howe Elliott, who was a co-founder of the Association, an activist, and a suffragette. Prophet exhibited her work at the Association, and was awarded first prize in the Annual show in 1932. Her struggles continued, however, and she died destitute in 1960, just as the Civil Rights Movement was getting underway. A generation later, Prophet’s work is finally getting the attention and recognition it deserves.

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