By Candace J. Semien
It’s not folk art, but Tedism. It is the unique style of art and storytelling by Ted Ellis.
For nearly 30 years, Ellis’ art unfolds and celebrates the traditional values of Black culture and lifestyle. He has beautifully captured that lifestyle on large canvas and prints. In the energy of this year’s drastic lifestyle changes for Blacks around the world, Ellis has captured the protests and the COVID-19 pandemic on masks and t-shirts.
These creations aren’t surprising. Ellis has consistently revered Black life and captured it in his art and presentations. He was educated in New Orleans, a city full of style and artistic exuberance known for its rich Black heritage. This inspired him to capture the essence of the “subjects of his childhood in the glory of their rich cultural heritage” which he manages to do expertly with the latest art: masks.
Black Lives Matter Mask by Ted Ellis (Courtesy photo)
“I paint Subjects that are representative of the many facets of American life, particularly, African-American culture and history, as I know it. I like to think of myself as a creative historian. I was put here to record history, all aspects of American culture and heritage. My sole purpose has always been to educate through my art,” he said.
Ellis is self-taught and passionate about his family, his heritage, and his art. His works boldly blend “realism and impressionism, evoking nostalgia and inspiration.” The former chemist has an amazing online gallery that features his most captivating work available on large canvases, miniature posters, mugs, t-shirts, calendars, and masks.
Extremely dedicated to his craft, he continues to be recognized for his artistic talent and is applauded for his depth of understanding of the power and use of art. His legacy is growing among collectors throughout the world while major corporations have commissioned him to create commemorable pieces, including Walt Disney Studios, the Minute Maid Company, Coca-Cola, Phillip Morris, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and Avon.