Thursday, September 13, 2012


Today was the day I finally made time to see the new exhibit at the "Art Fusion 19464" (the Gallery on High) in Pottstown.
I was not prepared for the complex emotions that I felt walking into the space.  I knew the story of the exhibit...THREADS OF A STORY: CONTINUED...paintings of the Freedom Riders and their journey with the justice system of the time...but I was stunned by my personal reaction to the paintings.

 I was 6 to 11 years old at that time in our American history, growing up in a very white New England village. But we did have TV, even if it was just three I would watch anything that was on.  I remember the News footage, but had no point of reference. It was not part of my "white girl life".             My response to these painting was such a mix of emotions.  The art is stunning:  big, bold and rich with color and texture.  The gallery has done a magnificent job of displaying the works.  It was my reading of their individual stories that hit emotional nerves deep in my gut.

"Mug shots are normally portraits of shame, but in those belonging to the Bus Boycotters and Freedom Riders, Charlotta Janssen sees their heroism, determination and courage"  (from the exhibit program)

These were real people with amazing courage and grace.  You can see it in their faces..their eyes. The artist has overlaid quotes, text and other media representation from the time. I sensed that these paintings were the work of her soul... honoring these heroic people...  To fully understand the injustice that they acted against, in a peaceful manner, made me wonder if I could be as courageous under those circumstances.  To be arrested and jail for peaceful assembly...respectfully riding a bus..

"In the spring and summer of 1961,...four hundred and fifty people-old and young, black and white, Northern and Southern- came togetrher to travel from Washington, D.C.,  through the Deep South defying the Jim Crow laws and putting their beliefs, even their lives on the line in defense of racial justice...their harrowing, horrifying and ultimately heroic story- (is) a tale of sacrifice, high drama, and unexpected triumph....a disparate band of volunteers expanded the realm of the possible in American politics, redefining the limits of dissent and setting the stage for the Civil Rights movement:  all by taking a ride on a bus"
                                                                   -Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle For Racial  Justice
                                                                                                     Raymond Arsenault

 I was sharing my thoughts with the lovely gallery attendant as I examined the story of each person.. posted next to their portrait.  We both agreed that we have come a long way....but that we are not completely were we should be.  There is more that must.. and will change.

 I found this to be one of the most emotionally powerful exhibits of art I have ever observed....I am grateful to have had the opportunity to experience such a brilliant and enlightening collection. My wish would be for every American to spend time getting to know these faces and their story's....and to thank God they are who  they are.  Go... and get to know them..

  The exhibit is here in Pottstown until October 20th....a must see....
  The hours areTuesday-Friday 10-5  and Saturday from 10-3


1 comment:

  1. Could you (possibly) mention where this exhibit is moving on to next, or even its entire itinerary ? Some of your readers live quite far from Pottstown;)

    A fan from NH.