Nelson was born in Nashville, Tennessee where he learned a love for entertainment and creative expression through the performing arts of choir and stage. He moved to Alabama as a teenager and was captivated by the beauty of the state’s landscape. He became interested in photography, and eventually art school. It was in art school that Nelson found his passion for sculpture. He earned a BFA and an M.Ed from the University of Montevallo and has been teaching in the public schools since 1996. His professional career as a sculptor compliments his role as a teacher. Through hard work and his love for art, Nelson’s sculptures have continued to evolve and grow with each passing group of students. He sees the students as an inspiration. “Teenagers live in an imaginary world,” he says, “and it’s that imagination that inspires me”.
Nelson is known for his whimsical and entertaining animal sculptures and paintings. He has had multiple corporate and museum purchases. When the magazine Ceramics Monthly featured Nelson’s work, viewers were encouraged to “look a little closer” in order to “see that the work is about the child living on in the adult.”
Nelson’s work is, in fact, inspired by a child’s play of building with toys such as Legos or Lincoln Logs. Through a process of creating his own ‘custom legos’ or components, he then assembles the parts together, and in this way, explores his uninhibited childlike imagination. “Everything is fresh and new each time I come into the studio. I bring out my parts and pieces and just build. It makes me feel like a child again”.