Award winning book inspires upcoming exhibit at Civil Rights Museum

by Kashif Stone

The International Civil Rights Center & Museum is planning to open an exhibit after the award winning portrait-series book “Americans Who Tell the Truth” by American artist Robert Shetterly. The exhibit will focus on helping youth (and all attendees) contemplate the lives of the portrait subjects and, to consider their own engaged activism, as citizens in a democracy.

The Americans Who Tell the Truth exhibit is a non-partisan, issue-based project that is unlike an ordinary art exhibit. The exhibit is not about passively viewing portraits, instead designed to call society forward into our engaged citizenship. It intends to inspire the community through educating and focusing on the problems that plague society, and then collectively seek solutions.

Ellie Richard, the exhibit curator, saw the vision and educational value of bringing the exhibit to North Carolina. She also organized all volunteer and community exhibition teams. “I was introduced to Rob’s work a few years ago and had gone to his website untold times to learn, feel more connected with my own truth, and be inspired,” said Richard. “I became so inspired that I connected with Rob Shetterly.” The exhibit has also been supported by many individuals and civic groups in the form of portrait sponsorships, donations, and volunteering. “This project simply could not have come to fruition without the help of an incredible cadre of dedicated volunteers,” said Richard.

The North Carolina Americans Who Tell the Truth (AWTT) exhibit contains 52 portraits of courageous truth-tellers with accompanying biographies””all from the 216 portraits in Shetterly’s AWTT body of work. The portraits are very substantial, measuring 30″ x 36″, and are acrylic painted on wood panels. The exhibit at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum (ICRCM) will feature 44 of these portraits with eight of them on display at the Hege Gallery in the Library at Guilford College.

Richard defines the exhibit as a profound educational opportunity and specifically wants to target the youth. “This exhibit is about us as elders providing youth (and all who attend the exhibit) with the knowledge, skills, models, and collectively explore how to be powerful, engaged citizens using our voices for greater justice and change,” said Richard. “A democracy necessitates that we do this.”

The ICRCM and AWTT staffs anticipate significant interest in the exhibit. They recommend that all attendees prepare to maximize the exhibit by exploring the AWTT website before their visit, make use of the accompanying curriculum created by two UNCG professors, and continue their experiences by finding places that they can bec ome more engaged citizens. “I am anticipating excitement and a lot of conversations,” said Richard. “The exhibit is very stimulating and beckons us forward into difficult conversations, often about what is, in contrast to what we think, feel, and believe should be.” !


The exhibit opens to the public on Monday, November 16, 2015 and will run through Saturday, February 13, 2016. General admission to the exhibit is $10 at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum located at 134 S Elm St, Greensboro, NC. The smaller exhibit at Guilford College is free to the public. The museum is also planning free exhibit days that will be sponsored by community members and organizations. Those date are have not been determined. For more information on “Americans Who Tell The Truth”, visit the website