Little Brown Skin Girls – the Artist behind the Art

I’d like to introduce you to Lia Nelson – James, owner and CREATOR of Little Brown Skin Girl Scrap Paper Art. I wanted her to tell her story about how Little Brown Skin Girl came about and why she’s looking forward to being able to take the business to its next level.


Lia cropped

I was born and raised in the Denver-Metro area. I earned a Bachelor of Science from Colorado State University, a Masters of Art from Regis University and have worked in higher education for the majority of my life.

In the Beginning

The term, “little brown skin girl”, is a phrase that had been ‘tossed’ around in my growing up world for many years.  Little brown skin girls were girls/women of color and when telling stories or recounting a tale of some sort, it was used to give a positive perspective on the varied aspects of skin hues, of minority, specifically African American, women. My family had many strong matriarchs and this phrase was a term of endearment as well as identification; it represents time spent with mothers, grandmothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, extended family, and various personal and family friends.

As I grew older the phrase, little brown skin girl, was one I used as a special communication with my mom.  I would end our conversations with statements such as, “good night little brown skin girl,” or “see you later little brown skin girl,” offer warnings such as, “be careful little brown skin girl,” etc.  It was a way of saying I love you and I know you love me, I appreciate all that you are as a woman and I value you in my life.

For years, I’d make pieces on commission for a particular occasion or to give as gifts. When my husband and I bought our first home together, it had huge walls.  I worked to make beautiful, unique Little Brown Skin Girl art that represented our genetic history and background, and hung those around the house in place of a more traditional décor.

Just recently though, Little Brown Skin Girl art creation took on a more personal purpose.

It’s About Family Legacy

Growing up, I watched my dad work on all kinds of things; cars, plumbing, electrical anything, light carpentry and on the side, eclectic artwork.  He would draw, etch glass, engrave metal projects, and create wire sculptures; his expressions were incredible although he was never quite satisfied with them. It seemed there was nothing he couldn’t do, or at least attempt to do.  I was always amazed at how he would just jump in and create something.

Once my father’s health started to decline, my sister and I took turns sitting at the house in the evenings with my dad until my mom came home from work. When it was my night to sit with my dad, I found that I needed something to do with my nervous energy.  I created pieces to pass the time, to illustrate fond memories of my dad, and ultimately as  a way to express my grief once he passed.

My desire  is to grow Little Brown Skin Girl Scrap Paper art into a business that honors my father’s creative spirit and serves as a lasting tribute to not only him but to the special family times, the strong matriarchs, the dreams held by children, and the strong cultural history of my people.


With the money we’re raising, Lia will be able to register and trade mark Little Brown Skin Girl Scrap Paper Art. From there, she’ll launch her web gallery where folks can commission one of a kind pieces or select from a variety of products imprinted with a picture of a Little Brown Skin Girl work of art.

For those of you in the Denver area, mark your calendars for June 4th, 6:00 PM for the opening reception of the Little Brown Skin Girls Scrap Paper Art Exhibition . Framed pieces will be on display and for sale for the entire month of June in the prestigious gallery of the Blair-Caldwell African-American Research Library, located in the Historic Five Points District, Denver, CO. The reception is free an open to the public.

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