CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Art is a form of expression that allows people to capture history or give a view on the world.
In Charlotte, the city is seeing an explosion of creativity, particularly in Uptown. One professor at UNC Charlotte says this new work reminds him of art from a Charlotte activist and artist.
T.J. Reddy was a civil rights activist who attended Johnson C. Smith University and UNC Charlotte in the 1960s.
In 1972, Reddy was charged in burning down a stable that was denying business to African Americans, despite there being no conclusive evidence against him. His sentence was eventually commuted, and he was released from prison in 1979.
He began focusing on art and depicting the African American community.
Mark West, an English Professor at UNC Charlotte and fan of Reddy’s, says the artwork captured moments in Charlotte’s history.
“He would depict themes that would deal with racism, all of the problems that so many African American people have to deal with unfortunately. But he would always show hope,” West says.
West feels Reddy would be proud to see the new Black Lives Matter mural in Uptown, reflecting the work he started years ago.
“TJ was right there way before anybody came up with that phrase, he was already doing this wonderful work of showing in fact how black lives matter,” West says. “He would be pleased to see so many other people taking public stance.”
Reddy died in 2019 at the age of 73. He has work on display at the Levine Museum of the New South, the Charlotte Convention Center, and in the gallery section on his website.