Americans Who Tell the Truth Exhibit at SU

From the November/December 2018 PNL #863

By Julia Ganson

For the first time ever, Robert Shetterly will display the entire 235-piece collection of his masterwork portrait series, Americans Who Tell the Truth: Models of Courageous Citizenship, in one place—and at Syracuse University in the last week of November. Shetterly’s project combines visual art and other media to highlight citizens who courageously address issues of social, environmental, and economic fairness.


Serving as the host for this exhibit is a great achievement, having been planned by SU faculty across campus since last spring. There are strong indications that the university administration is trying to play down Shetterly’s presence at SU. The exhibit was moved from a more public campus venue to a student study lounge. A conversation between Shetterly and two of his subjects is part of the University Lecture Series, but will not be held in the large Hendricks Chapel as most talks in the series are. Neither the exhibit nor the talk has been well publicized in the community or even on campus.


One would think that SU would have promoted the exhibit as the coup it is, but it may be deemed “too controversial” and a threat to the university’s embracement of military funding, with initiatives like the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, the Office of Veteran and Military Affairs, and the future National Veterans Resource Complex—a first-of-its kind facility in the US. Americans Who Tell the Truth includes portraits of peacemakers who are war protestors and resisters, including Daniel Ellsberg, John Kiriakou, Camilo Mejia, Chelsea Manning, and Col. (ret.) Ann Wright (who will speak in Syracuse on November 27, see page 4).


Americans Who Tell the Truth will be displayed in Panasci Lounge on the third floor of SU’s Schine Center from November 26 - December 14. On the 29th, Robert will take part in an on-stage conversation with two of his subjects at 7pm in Setnor Auditorium, Crouse College—bank whistleblower Richard Bowen, and Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who released a study revealing that children in Flint, Michigan had high levels of lead in their blood due to the lead in their water.


Julia Ganson is a local activist who has worked with Robert in interviewing his subjects.