John T. Riddle Jr., an artist whose work explores the struggles faced by African Americans throughout history, was born in 1933 in Los Angeles, California. After earning his bachelor’s degree in education and his master’s degree in painting from California State College in Los Angeles, Riddle taught art in area high schools. In 1974 he moved to Atlanta and began teaching at Spelman College.
During his more than two decades in Atlanta, Riddle created the bronze statue Expelled Because of Color, a public commission that stands on the grounds of the state capitol. He also worked for the Bureau of Cultural Affairs, became executive director of Atlanta’s Neighborhood Art Center, and served for fifteen years as assistant director of the Atlanta Civic Center. In 1999 Riddle returned to Los Angeles to become the program manager of visual arts for the California African American Museum.
Riddle’s celebrated works have been exhibited at such venues as the High Museum of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, both in Atlanta; the Tubman African American Museum in Macon; the National Jazz Museum in New York City; and the Musée de Montreux in Switzerland. Former Atlanta mayors Maynard Jackson and Andrew Young also acquired his work for their private collections.
Riddle died in Atlanta on March 3, 2002. His mixed media work Clubs Is Trumps, silkscreen print Turtlemen with Turtlehooks (1985), and collages Harriet Tubman: Carrying Out the Plan (1981) are part of Georgia’s State Art Collection.