Works in the Collection
Otto Neals was born in Lake City, South Carolina in 1930. When Neals was young, his family relocated to Brooklyn, NY, where he continues to live and work today. Neals describes himself as a self-taught artist, although he studied briefly at the Brooklyn Museum Art School with Isaac Soyer and printmaking at the Bob Blackburn Printmaking Workshop with Krishna Reddy, Mohammed Khalil, and Roberto DeLomanica. He was introduced to stone carving by sculptor Vivian Schuyler Key, who presented him with his first set of stone carving tools.
In 1995, Otto Neals was commissioned by The Prospect Park Alliance and Ezra Jack Keats Foundation to create a bronze sculpture entitled “Peter and Willie,” based on the works of author and illustrator Keats. This piece is located in the “Imagination Playground” in Prospect Park and earned Neals the New York City Arts Commission’s “Award for Excellence in Design”. Other commissions include 10 bronze plaques for the “Harlem Walk of Fame,” a bronze sculpture for the Brooklyn Children’s Center, a 20-foot mural for Kings County Hospital, and recently a bronze portrait of the late Manhattan Borough President Percy Sutton for the City University of New York.
Neals has been featured in several publications including Black Artists of the New Generation by Elton Fax, The New York Times, and Ebony Magazine. His artwork has been exhibited at the Art Students League of New York, the Columbia Museum of Art, the Huntsville Museum of Art, The Ghana National Museum, The Library of Congress, The Smithsonian Institution. His work has also been included in the collections of Congressman John Lewis, jazz musician Randy Weston, actor/singer Harry Bellafonte and Oprah Winfrey to name a few.
About his art, Neals said, “My talent as an artist comes directly from my ancestors. I am merely a receiver, an instrument for receiving some of the energies that permeate our entire universe and I give thanks for having been chosen to absorb those artistic forces.”