Blackwell is often cited as being one of the preeminent members of a group of younger African American contemporary artists, whose work plays a role in the current influx of this genre into the mainstream. He has been the recipient of many awards and honors, to include the Southern Arts Federation National Endowment for the Arts Regional Fellowship in Painting. Tarelton grew up on a Hog farm; working with the Hogs inspired him to make Hogs an intricle subject in his work. During a trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Blackwell was drawn to the way Diego Velazquez captured the spirits of his subjects and portrayed them with dignity. Blackwell’s studies of Velazquez have continued to influence his work. He has portrayed animals with dignity and respect while sharing his humor and insights with viewers. Blackwell is effectionally called the Hog Man.