“This work is based on a photo by Seth Aryee, to which I added elements to depict a Black couple as Adam and Eve. This work was created as part of the ‘Brighter Connected’ series—supported by the Jewish Arts Collaborative, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and CJP—that reflects the themes of Hanukkah and light.”
Anthony “TJ” Reynolds is a multidiscipline, multiracial artist, musician, and educator. His current series, “We Catch the Light,” explores his Black heritage and seeks to repudiate the omission of Black images from the classical canon.
Recently, Reynolds created illustrations for the Madame C.J. Walker exhibit at the Indiana Historical Society and an installation for Freedom House in Dorchester. Awards include a Creative Renewal Fellowship from the Arts Council of Indianapolis, a 2020 Brighter Connected grant from Jewish Arts Collaborative, and a 2020 hip-hop residence at the Peabody Essex Museum’s Jacob Lawrence exhibition.
As a musician and performer, Reynolds has been featured on NPR, performed spoken word nationally, won rap battles, poetry slams, and a Moth story competition. He teaches elementary visual art for a public school.
Visit TJ’s portfolio site.
How does your connection to Jewish community influence your art?
I explored the intersection of Blackness and Judaism. In that process, I interviewed Jewish teens of color. I was incredibly moved by their voices, and it felt obvious that they had a lot more to tell yet did not have the avenue in which to do so. They were also incredibly excited at the prospect of becoming subjects of my work one day. For this project, I want to interview Jewish people of color from around New England, and perhaps beyond, and create black-and-white hand-drawn portraits paired with narrative stories or poems that capture the voices and experiences of each subject.
Finish this thought: In order to create, I need…
Time and space. That comes with financial security in being fairly compensated for work and access to opportunities.
What’s your next artistic project or challenge?
I am starting to explore place within portraits, putting architectural details into the light of the portraits.
Learn more about CJP’s arts and culture initiative.