National Black art icon Ted Ellis leads the new Southern University at New Orleans Museum
On May 2, 2022, Ellis was ushered in as the inaugural Museum Director for Southern University at New Orleans.
International artist Ted T. Ellis is the museum director for Southern University of New Orleans—a first for the new museum.
“I am excited to step into the role of museum director and advance the pursuit of cultural and academic excellence at Southern University at New Orleans, creating a unique synergy between other museums, institutions and corporate partners,” said Ellis who is known for his
On May 2, he took on the role to lead museum staff and its curatorial team in planning and developing art exhibitions, implementing community engagement projects, and initiating student and artist-driven projects.
“I’m really excited to be doing this and pushing forward—with a lot of intentionality, a lot of purpose—who I am, my community, and my history,” Ellis said. “I get to make that ask for partnerships, for collaborations, on sharing what’s important to those who have the same kind of interest that I have in celebrating culture and identity.”
With his vision, Ellis said he plans to bring an innovative approach to operating the new museum. His ability to think analytically and be creative makes him one of the most vital artistic and administrative voices in the art community—his vision is uniquely rooted in a deep appreciation and understating of New Orleans history and culture. His relationship with artists and patrons, as well as building trust in the community makes Ellis a major asset as Southern’s museum director.
Ellis said his goal is to create a successful pathway to elevate the university’s museum presence in the cultural landscape of the City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana. A major focus will be on authentically engaging diverse audiences and achieving meaningful academic benefits and civic impact. And providing a “hands-on approach” for the graduate students who are obtaining a master of arts in museum studies at SUNO.
Although the position is new, Ellis’s role is constant, writes Amari Jackson. “When I was going through the museum studies program, there was a level of validation through the course work given this is what I’ve been doing,” Ellis said of the professional networking and audience engagement activities he participated in while receiving his Master of Arts in Museum Studies from Southern.
“I’m doing corporate lunch and learns, engaging audiences and gaining trust, I’m presenting cultural artifacts—which is my art—I’m telling a story, it’s enlightening them, it’s appeasing their curiosity, they’re learning, and I’m uplifting human capital through my art. And I do it at outdoor festivals, I do it at corporate lunches, I do it at private home shows,” Ellis told Jackson in A River Runs Through It: The Mighty Ted Ellis Rolls in as Museum Director at Southern University.
Ellis’s works have been commissioned by major corporations including Disney, The Minute Maid Company, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., and Avon, have been featured in local and national media, and have been purchased and collected by Spike Lee and Brad Pitt. He sells original art worldwide from the T. Ellis Art Gallery in Houston, Texas.
Ellis also served as Scholar in Residence at Old Dominion University last year. There, he was responsible for sharing and engaging students, faculty, and the community with art exhibitions, programs, and discussions about racial equality, justice, and equity through visual art.