George Nock (1946-2020), former running back with the New York Jets and Washington Redskins (Commanders), was destined early in life to become an artist. The brawny, broad-shouldered ex-athlete found his real victory in the expression of fluid movement in sculptural form. Nock established himself among the most prominent African American sculptors of the 20th and 21st centuries with his ability to capture Lifeʼs greatest moments in bronze.
The multi-talented Nock etched, sketched, sculpted, and painted throughout high school – amid stellar performance on the basketball court and football field. In 1964, on a sports scholarship, the mild-mannered jock attended Morgan State University, where he majored in Psychology. In 1969, he had been drafted by the New York Jets. The team would be going over game strategy in the training facility in Shea Stadium and one would find Nock working on preliminary drawings for sculptures.
“I knew all the mechanics of the moves – I was inspired to recreate them.”
His first bronze casting, Scat Back, depicted his playing position, a running back. Nock's admiration of the human form and firsthand knowledge of the feats it could achieve is recognizable in the compelling realism of his work.
“I feel a responsibility to breathe life into untold stories, usually women, the culture bearers of any society. Oftentimes my subject will be African Americans, whose way of life seems to have remained in touch with their heritage. One can still observe many of our traditions and ways of times past. Our history is reflected in our faces.”
Over his decades long career as an artist, Nock devoted his life to the creation of realistic figures in bronze. His bronzes seem to embody a definite feeling of respect and passion regardless of subject matter. Much of Nockʼs work was derived from some indelible experience stored in the crevices of his mind. Whether sculpting a figure from world history, a forgotten people, or a famed athlete, Nock possessed the uncanny ability to capture the essence of his subject with a characteristic pose or expression. Perhaps it was Nockʼs early coursework in psychology that comes into play, leaving one with the feeling that his bronze works are more than mere representations – but lifelike, intimate glimpses into the very core of who his images depict.
Image Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore Sun
2022: Lorna Doone Park (Orlando, FL): Barrier Breakers (bronze, 2020). The Barrier Breakers Monument was unveiled to honor the South's first interracial Little League baseball game in 1955.
2017: Morgan State University (Baltimore, MD): Coaches Edward P. Hurt and Earl C. Banks (life size bronze portraits)
2015: Milton Library (Fulton County, GA): The Door of Knowledge (fiberglass) and Milty's Domain (life size bronze)
2009, 2004: Reid Temple A.ME. (Glenn Dale, MD): The Gift (bronze)
Image Jordan Braun
2022: Too Black, Too Fast (Miami, FL): An exhibition showcasing the portraiture and history of African American jockeys in thoroughbred horse racing. Exhibit sponsored by Baccarat to usher in the 2022 Pegasus World Cup.
2013-Present: Portrait of Frederic Douglass. National Museum of African American History and Culture (Washington, DC)