PATERSON, NJ  - In celebration of Black History Month, the Passaic County Cultural & Heritage Council at Passaic County Community College is pleased to present Tipi Narratives, paintings on recycled canvas by New Jersey artist Toni Thomas.  The exhibition will be on view in the Broadway & LRC Galleries at Passaic County Community College from January 30 through March 22012.


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A reception for the artist will be held in the Broadway Gallery, Thursday, February 9, 4:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.  Admission to the exhibit and reception is free and open to the public. The Broadway & LRC Galleries are located at Passaic County Community College, Broadway at Memorial Drive in the downtown historic district of Paterson, New Jersey.   Hours are Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.


Inspired by a pattern designed by the Blackfoot people, Toni Thomas’s tipi paintings began as a way for her to connect cultures and traditions of indigenous people from North America and Africa.  Tipi Narratives is a series of shaped paintings created on stretched and stitched recycled canvas.  Each piece tells a story based on the artist’s personal, cultural and universal concerns. For example, Indigo Hands addresses the use of slave labor to dye fabric to make army uniforms during the Civil War.  Another painting, Exquisite Butterfly, shows an image of a woman of color as a trapped butterfly unable to spread her wings because of her position in the home and in society.


Toni Thomas received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Wayne State University in Detroit, MI, and a Master of Fine Arts from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ.  She exhibits her work widely with recent exhibitions at the College of St. Elizabeth in New Jersey, the Asian American Art Center in New York City and in Havana, Cuba.  She was awarded grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Vermont Studio Center, and was recently an artist-in-residence at the English School in Helsinki, Finland.


Thomas is currently an art instructor at Arts High School in Newark, NJ.  She has created several art programs for youth and adults in New York and New Jersey.  She is the founder and director of Arts ETC, a nonprofit art organization dedicated to building community among artists and bringing art programs to local communities.  In 2007 Thomas started Catfish Friday Women’s Art Collective and in 2010 opened the Yema Gallery in the Valley Arts district of Orange, NJ.


For additional information, please contact Jane Haw , Gallery Curator, at (973) 684-5448 or visit our website at


The Passaic County Cultural & Heritage Council at Passaic County Community College has been named a Distinguished Arts Organization and is funded, in part, by the New Jersey Council on the Arts/Department of State, a Partner Agency of the National Endowment of the Arts.


The Passaic County Community College Art Galleries strive to maintain a barrier-free facility including complete access for patrons using wheelchairs. Large print materials, FM listening systems, select audio publications and Braille transcriptions are available on request.  Please contact (973) 684-6507 for availability.