A portrait exhibit by Robert Shetterly titled “American’s Who Tell the Truth” will be on display in The AEGON Gallery in the Jones Visual Arts Center, Jan. 22 through March 2.
From Cincinnati, Ohio, Shetterly received his B.A. from Harvard College. He later moved to Maine, where he taught himself drawing, printmaking and painting. For 12 years, he produced the editorial page drawings for The Maine Times newspaper and illustrated National Audubon’s children’s newspaper Audubon Adventures, as well as approximately 30 books.
Shetterly’s paintings and prints are in collections all over the U.S. and Europe. A collection of his drawings and etchings, “Speaking Fire at Stones,” was published in 1993. He is well known for his series of 70 painted etchings based on William Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell” and for another series of 50 painted etchings reflecting on the metaphor of the Annunciation.
His painting has tended toward the narrative and the surreal; however, for more than 10 years, he has been painting the series of portraits “Americans Who Tell the Truth.” The exhibit has been traveling around the country since 2003. Venues have included everything from university museums and grade school libraries to sandwich shops, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City and the Superior Court in San Francisco. To date, the exhibits have visited 26 states. In 2005, Dutton published a book of the portraits by the same name. A year later, the book won the top award of the International Reading Association for Intermediate non-fiction.
The portraits have given Shetterly an opportunity to speak with children and adults all over the country about the necessity of dissent in a democracy, the obligations of citizenship, sustainability, U.S. history. His work also focuses on how democracy cannot function if politicians don’t tell the truth, if the media don’t report it and if the people don’t demand it.
Shetterly has engaged in a wide variety of political and humanitarian work with many of the people whose portraits he has painted. In the spring of 2007, he traveled to Rwanda with Lily Yeh and Terry Tempest Williams to work in a village of survivors of the 1994 genocide. Much of his current work focuses on honoring and working with the activists trying to bring an end to the practice of Mountaintop Removal by coal companies in Appalachia, on climate change and on the continuation of systemic racism in the U.S., particularly in relation to the school-to-prison pipeline.
Since 1990, he has been the president of the Union of Maine Visual Artists (UMVA) and a producer of the UMVA’s Maine Masters Project, an on-going series of video documentaries about Maine artists.
During Shetterly’s visit to campus, Feb. 19-23, he will visit classes including Comparative Politics, Environmental History, Art and Social Justice, Environmental Economics, Ecology, Humanities, Photography and Painting.
On Feb. 20, Shetterly will give a convocation at 7 p.m. in Young 113.
by Centre College News
January 23, 2018