Breast cancer survivor/political activist uses Paducah artist residency to regenerate her creative verve

Paducah Arts Alliance (PAA) is pleased to welcome Reynolds Tenasas-Norman, from Brooklyn, New York, to Paducah as the current participant of the Paducah Artist In Residence program. Tenasas-Norman began her two-week residency on February 12 at Pinecone Art Studio & Gallery, 421 N 7th Street. An exhibit of a selection of her small drawings inspired by The Scarlet Letter, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850s historic work of fiction, will be on display at StudioMars, 418 N 7th Street, Friday, February 24, from 5-7 pm. Tenasas-Norman’s drawings will be presented as a mosaic-style exhibit that showcases the diversity of women who choose their own destiny.

Reynolds studied Women’s History with Austrian-born American historian Gerda Hedwig Lerner and painting with Richard Pousette-Dart, founder of the New York School of painting, at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. She has been a feminist artist since the late seventies. In the early nineties, Reynolds began teaching art, focusing her personal work on a series of Goddess etchings on women’s health issues. Her teaching career took her to the Guggenheim Museum and later to the Brooklyn Museum where she is currently a Gallery/Studio Artist Educator.

“My work has always focused on revealing the oppressions in our unconscious, and I felt that the feminist fight was for our minds as well as our bodies,” said Tenasas-Norman. “I wanted to turn my literal gaze away from the objectification of women into ownership of our own bodies on paper.” In the Scarlet Letter, Hawthorne wrote: She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom. “That’s the quote that inspired the series!” said Tenasas-Norman. “You can see the women gaze at the landscape with the letter of their freedom in every drawing.”

Tenasas-Norman began drawing digitally to retain her motor skills during and after breast cancer treatment. A wife and mother, she is using this unique time as an artist-in-residence to concentrate on her drawing and teaching skills. While in Paducah, Tenasas-Norman is drawing and interacting with local artists and experiencing the cultural assets of this UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Art. “I enjoy the opportunity to diversify and expand my mosaic and brainstorm new ideas for its display,” said Tenasas-Norman.

To arrange an interview, contact Rosemarie Steele or Reynolds Tenasas-Norman directly at or 917.328.0386. For more information regarding the artist, visit her websites at and

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