Najee is a young art model in New York. He is an artist himself, but he works as a model to help make ends meet. He has posed at the studio a few times over the past couple of years. Each time, there is a new opportunity to see a unique aspect of his character, so I've tried to capture those essential qualities. Najee's kindness and calm demeanor are self-evident, but his poses also reveal an inner strength.
He is the model for Kehinde Wiley's equestrian statue in Times Square, "Rumors of War." Wiley indeed identified that resilience embodied by Najee when he selected Najee to represent a Buffalo Soldier who fought on the American western front after the Civil War. Interestingly, "Rumors of War" refers both to this martial history but also to Bob Marley's oeuvre, which includes song titles "Buffalo Soldier" and "Rumors of War."
I asked Najee what Kehinde was like as a person and what he thought of him. Rather diplomatically, he said that he was very stylish and amiable. I asked if he was doing the sculpting himself. With a smile, Najee noted that he "visited the studio frequently." I didn't inquire further.