Houston Matters

Houston artist Ted Ellis has made a career out of documenting Black history and culture

Ellis’ paintings anchor a new art installation in Galveston, and he tells Houston Matters about his work and why it’s important.

Houston artist Ted Ellis poses with some of his work.

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A new art exhibition has opened in Galveston featuring work from artists around the region chronicling the African American journey to freedom in Texas. The installation from The Juneteenth Freedom Project features more than 60 art pieces documenting Black experiences in America spanning centuries.

Houston-based painter Ted Ellis is the exhibit's featured artist. For the past 30 years, he's documented history with paintings depicting important Black figures, moments in African American history, and Black contributions to arts and culture.

  • Houston artist Ted Ellis has made a career out of painting scenes from Black history and culture. (Photo Credit: Ted Ellis)
    Houston artist Ted Ellis has made a career out of painting scenes from Black history and culture. (Photo Credit: Ted Ellis)
  • Ted Ellis depicts Black contributions to art and culture in his paintings. (Photo Credit: Ted Ellis)
    Ted Ellis depicts Black contributions to art and culture in his paintings. (Photo Credit: Ted Ellis)
  • A painting by Houston artist Ted Ellis. (Photo Credit: Ted Ellis)
    A painting by Houston artist Ted Ellis. (Photo Credit: Ted Ellis)
  • Ted Ellis' work also documents aspects of the fight for social justice in the African American community. (Photo Credit: Ted Ellis)
    Ted Ellis' work also documents aspects of the fight for social justice in the African American community. (Photo Credit: Ted Ellis)

Ellis is the only African American artist appointed by the U.S. Department of the Interior to serve on the federal 400 Years of African American History Commission. And his traveling Juneteenth Freedom Exhibition anchors the art installation at the Nia Cultural Center Juneteenth Legacy Project in Galveston.

In the audio above, Ellis tells Houston Matters producer Michael Hagerty how he ended up focusing his work on these subjects and why it's important.

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Michael Hagerty

Michael Hagerty

Senior Producer, Houston Matters

Michael Hagerty is the senior producer for Houston Matters. He's spent more than 20 years in public radio and television and dabbled in minor league baseball, spending four seasons as the public address announcer for the Reno Aces, the Triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

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