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Ellen Powell Tiberino was an artist who infused works in the figurative tradition with an African American spirit. Themes to which she frequently returned in her work include African American life and history, and portrayals of girls and women in life situations such as pregnancy and motherhood. She exhibited widely in both Philadelphia and New York. Her drawings and paintings are held the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among others. Powell Tiberino has been acclaimed as Philadelphia's "premier African-American woman artist".


She attended Overbrook High School, and then went to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1956–1961). She was the second black woman to receive a Cresson Traveling Scholarship, in 1959, which she used to travel in Europe. She lived in New York City for the next six years.


In 1967, she married Joseph Tiberino, an Italian American Catholic artist who grew up in Philadelphia and attended the University of the Arts. Of their children, Raphael Tiberino, Ellen Tiberino and Gabriele Tiberino have also become well-known Philadelphia artists.


Ellen Powell Tiberino transitioned in 1992, after a fourteen-year battle with cancer. Even when bedridden, she continued to work, in a burst of creative activity that defied death. She told her husband, "I'm trying to work fast because I don't have a lot of time left." Some of her later self-portraits have been compared to the work of Frida Kahlo.

The Corner Bar by Ellen Powell Tiberino