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By: Gail Obenreder
“One day, when I went downtown to SoHo and saw the excitement and the colorful people selling art on the street, I knew that I would be an artist.”
For Theresa Angela Taylor, art was a family tradition. When she was three, Taylor’s father taught her how to draw, and she often created her own dolls. “I had a great imagination.” With her two sisters and a brother, Taylor was raised in a creative Harlem family, with the legacy of fabled Harlem Renaissance artists (Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Langston Hughes) always present.
Her grandfather was a jazz singer with Cab Calloway, and her father was a painter. One year “he forgot to get a Christmas tree, so he painted [one] on the wall of our Lenox Avenue apartment.” After he died, her mother (an Ebony magazine model) moved the family to the Bronx, sending the siblings into Manhattan for dancing, singing, and acting classes.
As a high school student at Laurinburg Institute (a fabled North Carolina boarding school with outstanding Black alumni), Taylor discovered she was dyslexic and was diagnosed as ADD. The school was instrumental in instilling confidence and the sense of possibility that led her to work in business and graphic design in the Washington DC area. As an adult, Taylor studied at the Art Institute of Washington, and throughout her long business career, she painted every day.
A Dover resident for the past twelve years and passionate about arts education, Taylor founded the design firm of Drayton Graphic Arts and Illustration. Though she’s never ceased creating and sharing her art, “marketing and pricing to determine who is my audience are my biggest challenges.”
The Division’s Fellowship is not Taylor’s only accolade this year; she also received a Hall of Fame Award from her Laurinburg alma mater, where one of her paintings hangs in the school lobby. A member of the Mispillion Art League and the Harlem Arts Alliance, Taylor plans that the Division’s Fellowship Award will provide financial support to purchase art supplies and create projects to “contribute something new and exciting for my community.” It will also help her to seek new audiences and continue community work and teaching in art camps and workshops.
“I want to give kids a platform to be more creative,” so the artist was delighted to help her granddaughter – “who just realized that she loves to paint” – with her art-school portfolio. Taylor has illustrated three children’s books by author Cynthia Robinson Brown. As a citizen artist, she is passionate about the messages of Black Lives Matter, “an important cause for America. If I can change the course of this through my paintings, drawings, or voting – I make a point to get involved.”
In April 2020, Taylor’s mother (who still lived in New York City) died of COVID, and the death affected her deeply. “She was my biggest cheerleader. Every morning she would call me and ask what I was painting.” The pandemic led Taylor to understand “how precious life is, and I am committed to make my legacy count . . . to paint more because I have a lot to say.”
Artist website: www.draytongraphic.comFellowship Home
Related Topics: 2021 Artist Fellows, art, artist fellowship, arts fellowship, arts grants, Delaware, Delaware Department of State, delaware division of the arts, emerging artist, folk arts, grants, grants for artists, individual artist fellowship, painter, painting, State of Delaware, Theresa Angela Taylor, visual arts