Overcoming: Reflections on Struggle, Resilience, and Triumph Rhinold Ponder

January 10 - March 5

Several days before his assassination, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. proclaimed that “We Shall Overcome”, in a refrain motivated by the hymn of the same name and the generations of Americans who fought (and will continue to fight) for justice and freedom for people of color.   In “Overcoming,” artist, activist and writer, Rhinold Ponder, inspired by Dr. King, employs his mixed media paintings to provoke reflection of the resilience of Black people in a continuing struggle for recognition of their humanity and demand for human rights.


About Rhinold Ponder

“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.”


Rhinold Ponder is an artist, writer, activist, independent curator and lawyer based in Princeton, New Jersey.  His interests are broad as reflected in his paintings, mixed media collages and most recently his work in wood sculpture. With a wide range of styles, he frequently focuses on humanity’s faith and will to overcome adversity. His most recent in-person gallery exhibit, at the Kehler-Liddell Gallery in New Haven, Connecticut, “The Rise and Fail of the N-Word” focused on the language and physical manifestation of racism.  The critically acclaimed exhibition made its debut at Princeton University at the Carl Field Center in 2014. Rhinold has exhibited in a variety of galleries, virtual exhibitions and alternative venues, largely on the east coast, over the past 19 years.


At 62, Rhinold has been a founding member of several arts and educational advocacy organizations.  In 2020, he founded Art Against Racism, a non-profit organization whose mission is to employ art to inspire others to end racism and build an anti-racist society.  He is a founding member of Princeton Makes, a recently established diverse artist cooperative. He also a co-founder of Princeton Parents for Black Children, a non-profit which advocates for equity for all Black children in the Princeton School District.  Inspired by the response to the debut of “The Rise and Fail of the N-Word,” Rhinold created the “Beyond Black and White Discussion Group,” a Facebook community of 7200 members to promote critical and civil discussions on issues related to humanity and justice.


A graduate of Princeton University (’81), where he earned an 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 African-American to head an NYU law review.  He also achieved masters 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. He is presently on the gallery committee of the Arts Council of Princeton. 


As an author, his writings have appeared in numerous publications including the New York Times, the Trenton Times, Afropunk and the City Sun.  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 recently graduated from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, and William Ponder, a freshman in high school.    

More Exhibitions

Traces of Time

  Change is constant. The process of growing older is a fact. These images contain traces of a lifetime’s memories. They have to do with the passing of time, moments and people that are gone, love, sexuality, family, beauty, decay, fragility, longevity, vulnerability, sickness, health, the pandemic and death.   This project started when I fractured my pelvis, was immobile, and could only get around with a walker. Friends sent bouquets and with severely limited motion, I began to photograph them on my kitchen table,

Master Class Artists Exhibit

  The Arts Council of Princeton presents an an exhibition of new paintings and drawings by artists from the Painting and Drawing Master Class instructed by Charles David Viera. This exhibition will be offered in the Lower Gallery and the public is invited to an artists’ reception Saturday, December 4 from 3-5pm. Says Viera “These students are from a special class that the Arts Council is now adding to their regular schedule of classes and is for artists that still appreciate a structured class environment.

Neighborhood Portrait

The Neighborhood Portrait Quilt is part of a permanent exhibition that tells a story of important leaders and residents.

Donor Wheel

More than 2,000 donors are acknowledged in this one-of-a-kind sculpture by Joshua Kirsch