In celebration of Black History Month, we are featuring Tonya Engel. Tonya is an African American illustrator who has created a number of picture books featuring inspiring Black voices during meaningful moments throughout history. Her work is figurative, colorful and full of symbolism.
“Since I was a little girl, stories of my rich and meaningful heritage have fascinated me. It all began at the library where I would sit for hours in the children’s book stacks daydreaming. I would let my imagination take me away to places where people who looked like me were creating inventions that would change the world or folktales that tied our ancestral pasts with our present in funny anecdotes and cautionary tales. I’d go home and try my best to recreate my favorite highlights with my crayons and watercolors.
With my paintings, I strive to recreate those feelings of wonder and joy & discovery. I’m most excited by vivid color, the unexpected gesture, abundant landscapes, expressions, movement, forms or material. The work is, at its root, inspired by our stories – real and imagined.
I’m so very proud of my African-American heritage, where we come from, where we’re going and the stories that I can share by way of my gift of expression & through my art.”