Mr. Reed studied at Morgan State College, where he received a B.S. in 1958, and later at Yale School of Art, where he received a B.F.A. in 1960 and an M.F.A. in 1962. He attended the art division of the Yale Summer School of Music and Art in 1960.
His work has been exhibited in America and in Europe and has been included in group exhibits at the Whitney Museum inaugural exhibition “America Is Hard to See”, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Biennial of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Hirshhorn Museum, the Walker Art Center, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery. His solo exhibits included the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Bayly Museum in Charlottesville, Virginia, the Washburn Gallery in New York, the McIntosh Gallery in Atlanta and the Yale School of Art.
His work is included in the permanent collections of the Hirshhorn Museum, the Walker Art Center, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Yale University Art Gallery, The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, The African American Museum Dallas, the James E. Lewis Museum of Art, and the Bayly Museum. His work is also included in several corporate collections including The Progressive Art Collection, Aetna Life, CIGNA, General Electric and G.D. Searle.
Mr. Reed lectured extensively in this country and taught at Skidmore College and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where he was head of the Foundation Studies Division in 1964. He was appointed to the Yale School of Art faculty in 1969 where he served for nearly 45 years as professor of painting/printmaking. He held several appointments as director of undergraduate studies in art at Yale starting in 1969 and also served as director of graduate studies in painting. From 1970 to 1975 he directed the art division of the Yale Summer School of Music and Art at Norfolk, Connecticut.
Reed also authored several intensive studio programs including ACRE, SIX-Summer in Experiment, and The Site Program. He was the founder and director of the Institute for Studio Studies, which was associated with the Yale Summer Session in Auvillar, France, from 2009 until his death in 2014.
Reed was a Yaddo Fellow. He was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He was a recipient of the 2004 National Council of Art Administrators Distinguished Teaching of Art Award from the College Art Association, and was elected in 2009 to the National Academy Fellows in New York. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. He served as a board member for the McDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, The Silvermine Guild Center for the Arts, Second Street Gallery and the Lyme Academy of Art.
Reed received numerous awards including the National Council of Arts Administrators, the College Art Association's Distinguished teaching award, the William DeVane teaching award, National Academy Fellow and was a recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.