Youth Speaking Truth exhibition opens March 6 at The Bridge

Bridge Progressive Arts InitiativeThe Bridge’s Belmont neighborhood gallery hosts an exhibit of 120 portraits made by Charlottesville High School students alongside portraits from Robert Shetterly’s A​mericans Who Tell the Truth ​series.

This installation, which opens on Friday, March 6, is part of a citywide exhibit hosted by six venues, featuring more than 60 of ​Robert Shetterly’s ​portraits of U.S. citizens who have addressed issues of social, environmental, and economic fairness.

Since 2001, Shetterly has painted nearly 250 portraits of American politicians, activists, artists, writers, and other citizens working to inspire individual and collective action for the common good. He will unveil his most recent portrait, a Charlottesville activist, at the March 1 panel discussion. His series includes paintings of two other Charlottesville residents, educator and founder of The World Peace Game John Hunter and journalist and peace activist David Swanson.

Young Americans, many not old enough to vote, comprise a force in our society that pushes us to look forward and see things in a new light. This exhibit explores their contributions and highlights the aspirations of a new generation. Portraits from Robert Shetterly’s Americans Who Tell the Truth series feature young activists whose words and actions address issues of social, environmental, and economic fairness.

Using Shetterly’s work as inspiration, 120 students painted their heroes and heroines, the people who have helped shape their hopes and dreams. Perhaps they’re not eligible to vote, but young Americans can change the world.

All exhibits and events are free and open to the public.

  • A Place Fit for Women​. The Jefferson School African American Heritage Center features 14 paintings of African American women and commemorates the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, Jan. 18 – April 18.
  • Created Equal: Portraits of Civil Rights Heroes​. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello celebrates the lives of 3 iconic civil rights figures, Jan. 18 – March 31.
  • Youth Speaking Truth.​ The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative features Shetterly’s portraits alongside 120 Charlottesville High School Student paintings of their truth tellers, March. 6-29.
  • The Truth to Climate Change.​ City Space on the Downtown Mall explores various ways that environmental activists have worked to protect our natural resources, Feb. 3-29.
  • Portraits of Change​. The UVA McIntire School of Commerce highlights leadership in business and commerce, March 2 – April 10.
  • Americans Who Tell the Truth @ Charlottesville. UVA’s Equal Opportunity and Civil Rights Office, along with UVA’s Division for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, honor 8 eight civil rights activists with a portrait gallery at Washington Hall, Hotel B, March 2 – April 10.

Two panel discussions and other events highlighting the portrait subjects and their work take place in February and March:

  • Feb. 26, 4:30pm – 6:30pm, closing reception at the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing Arts Center with gallery talk by Artist Robert Shetterly at 6:00pm.
  • Feb. 28, 5:30pm – 7:00pm, panel discussion and reception at City Space featuring local heroes John Hunter and David Swanson along with portrait subjects Kelsey Juliana and Diane Wilson. Moderated by artist Robert Shetterly.
  • March 1, 3:00pm – 5:00pm, panel discussion at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center with portrait subjects Sherri Mitchell, Bree Newsome and Reverend Lennox Yearwood, as well as artist Robert Shetterly. Moderated by Professor Brian Balogh of BackStory.
  • March 26, 4:30pm – 6:30pm, reception at the McIntire School of Commerce.

The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative ​is a cultural hub for Charlottesville offering an inclusive space for creative thinking and artistic pursuits while providing resources and methodology for meaningful arts engagement throughout the community​. Our mission is to bridge diverse communities through the arts. More information can be found at ​thebridgepai.org.


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