During the last week of September I had the pleasure of meeting and filming Robert Shetterly, the creator of the Americans Who Tell the Truth project. A painter, Rob has been creating large scale acrylic portraits of American “truth tellers” for the past 15 years. He started the project in 2002 in response to the United States’ buildup to the Gulf War, especially the falsehood about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. In my interview with him, Shetterly talked about the need to shift his focus away from his anger at the Bush administration and channel it into something more positive. Researching and painting these intimate portraits of courageous citizens who raised their voices against injustice, did the trick.
The Americans Who tell the Truth exhibit at the YMI Center in downtown Asheville is part of a larger exhibit exploring themes of civic engagement, put on by the Asheville-based non-profit Education for Engaged Citizens. Prints of some of Shetterly’s 230 paintings, as well as portraits created by regional youth and posters of local activists are also on display through November 19th. Part of the exhibit features new paintings, including one of Bree Newsome, the activist/artist who climbed the flagpole in front of the South Carolina statehouse in 2015 to take down the confederate flag.
Hanging out and filming Shetterly, Newsome, and the youth artists who are addressing some of this country’s most pressing social problems made for an inspiring week. I am sure that if you take the time to visit the exhibit, you too will feel a sense of inspiration and renewal.
What: Americans Who Tell the Truth
Where: YMI Cultural Center -39 S Market St
When: Sept 30- Nov. 19, 2017
Tues- Sat- 11:00 am- 4:00 pm Sun. 1:00-4;00 pm