Since graduating from Reinhardt in 1979, Tony Weldon has encouraged the unification and understanding of all people and their backgrounds. He spreads his message through art.
Weldon chose Reinhardt in 1977 after entering an art show and was offered a scholarship. “I got to go to Reinhardt which was a good experience. It’s a good way to learn how to be on your own, how to manage your time, and get your work done. It's a good place to grow up.” Weldon later earned a Fine Arts degree from Ringling College of Art and Design.
For a while, Weldon enjoyed doing drawings for medical books and advertising for Home Depot but wanted his art to tell stories. Harley-Davidson Art provided an outlet for his digital art to tell a story worldwide. But as he learned more about his family heritage, and the tribulations of his great-grandmother being a full-blooded Cherokee, he found his true passion, “That got me started doing more Native American art trying to tell the story of the Native American people, all different tribes and how they're just like everyone else. They have families. They have love. They have dreams. They have to work. And family is just very important to them.” He hopes to see a nation where all tribes are unified, as no background is any more important than another.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian has one of Weldon’s graphite illustrations in its permanent collection. Two other drawings are a permanent part of the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, GA. Some of Weldon’s paintings can be seen at High Country Art in Ellijay and other works are displayed at the Red Cloud Indian Arts Gallery in St. Petersburg, FL.
Weldon’s fondest memory of Reinhardt is of camaraderie in the art classes and of his professor Curtis Chapman. At a reunion in 1989, he says Chapman offered the opportunity to have an art show on campus, and that became his first one. Weldon also became a guest teacher for a week, which gave him a taste of teaching art.
Weldon now lives in Florida, teaches part-time at the Art Institute of Tampa, and still does lots of painting. He has words of encouragement for students, “Always draw. There's always time to do a drawing, even just a quick sketch. If you don't use it, you will lose it, that's the honest truth. And always be open to new ideas. Don't take any criticism personally. It's just somebody's opinion. And most of the time it's very helpful.”
Weldon was the featured artist for the City of Tampa during National Native American Heritage Month in November. He also helped set up Tampa’s exhibit for that event which showcased the background of tribes including the Seminoles and Cherokees.