Rhinold Lamar Ponder is an artist, writer/activist and lawyer based in Princeton New Jersey.  After thirty years of practicing law, Rhinold has returned to his love of art and writing as a fine artist, political commentator and local television show host

Rhinold Lamar Ponder is a polymath – an artist, curator, writer, poet, activist, and lawyer. His artistic focus is revealing and sharing our common humanity, with an emphasis on the beauty, strength, and resilience of people of color.

Rhinold, 64, born in Chicago, is based in Princeton, New Jersey where he is the founder and Executive Director of Art Against Racism, a 501(c)(3). AAR’s mission is to educate others about racial injustice and to provide opportunities and encouragement for others to create an anti-racist society.

As a visual artist, he works with a wide variety of materials in a myriad of styles. Most often his work combines the cerebral with beauty to facilitate connections and, perhaps, critical thinking.  He currently works in acrylics, collage elements, pen and ink and wood.  He works simultaneously on multiple series including fractals (designs comprised primarily of circles and ovals), abstracts, and sports-themed work combining text from the fiction of Black authors and explosive action paintings of athletes in motion.

His work has been exhibited widely in New Jersey, and in New York and Connecticut, largely in galleries and alternative venues.   His most recent exhibitions include group shows at Morven Museum and Garden, Princeton University, and a solo show at the Arts Council of Princeton.  He often lectures and leads panels on various topics connecting art to history, underappreciated artists and social change.

While his works draw on several themes and a wide range of styles, most of his works focus on humanity’s faith and will to overcome adversity.   His ongoing exhibit, “The Rise and Fail of the N-Word,” focuses on the language and physical manifestations of racism, made its debut at Princeton University in 2014 and gained acclaim after its 2018 showing at the Kehler Liddell Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut. One critic noted that the exhibition “made the case for reparations.” The work gained greater notoriety when it appeared in his daughter’s high school yearbook and resulted in her unjust suspension, gaining international attention in the media.

He began the serious pursuit of art as an award-winning student at Dunbar Vocational High School where he majored in commercial art and took courses in mechanical and architectural drafting. He counts among his teachers, Sam Beck, now one of the celebrated founders of the Afri-Cobra art collective.  In 2019, he studied sculpture in a residency with Tanzanian master sculptor Mwandale “Big Mama” Mwanyekwa. 

Rhinold creates and curates exhibition opportunities for other artists as an independent curator and through his work with Art Against Racism.  Such exhibitions include “Memorial, Monument Movement,” a highly praised virtual exhibition, and “Manifesting Beloved Community,” done the past two years in partnership with the West Windsor Arts Council in New Jersey.

A graduate of Princeton University, where he earned a A.B. in politics, Rhinold achieved his juris doctorate from New York University Law School where he was the editor-in-chief of the NYU Review of Law and Social Change – the first Africa-American to head an NYU law review.  He also achieved master’s in journalism and African American Studies while a Martin Luther King Fellow at Boston University.

His work on non-profit boards and community organizations is extensive.  Previously, he presided over the board of trustees of the Tony award winning Crossroads Theatre and successfully led a community effort to save the company.  

Rhinold’s writings have appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, the Trenton Times and the City Sun. Recently he co-authored, with Judith Brodsky, “Retrieving the Life and Art of James Wilson Edwards and a Circle of Black Artists,” an art catalogue accompanying an exhibition by the same name.    In 1997, he co-edited, with his wife, Michele Tuck-Ponder, two critically acclaimed compilations of sermons, published by Crown, entitled Wisdom of the Word: Faith and Wisdom of the Word: Love.


His wife, Michele, is a non-profit executive and former Mayor of Princeton Township. Rhinold has two children: Jamaica Ponder, who graduated from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and William Ponder, a high school junior.


A viewer’s pained sighs; joyful pauses; thought-provoked headaches; reflexive reconsideration and double-takes. Your tears. My tears. These things define my creative practice.

A viewer’s pained sighs; joyful pauses; thought-provoked headaches; reflexive reconsideration and double-takes. Your tears. My tears. These things define my creative practice.

I cry a lot when I paint.  Sometimes joylessly. Sometimes painfully.  But my emotive response during the creative process always lets me know when my work has a chance of touching someone else.  My emotional connection informs me whether the subject is a multi-colored painting that combines the athletic form with drip and splatter technique or an abstract capturing the pain of dark bodies drifting into the ocean during the Atlantic slave trade. My objective is to capture the emotion of my present and ancestral experience in a beautiful form which requires attention and consideration.

While my painting techniques are constantly evolving – for me the joy of practice is continual growth and experimentation — my current work reflects two strains of thought and provocation.  Much of my work, acrylics and mixed media, reflects my love of explosive colorful abstract and expressionist work with a focus on humanity’s faith and will to overcome adversity.  I am largely interested in expressions of hope and faith as unifying elements in a diverse society which I find in the human form in motion as in sports, dance, prayer and play.

Another strain of my work, currently revealed in my on-going project, “The Rise and Fail of the N-Word,” seeks to use art, through beautiful provocation, as an overt means of breaking communication barriers regarding race and justice.  This body of work is both a communication with art and literary history and a prompt to break down the language barriers preventing meaningful discussions about how we view and treat one another and how we can do better.