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UT Martin hosting art exhibition highlighting Underground Railroad

UT Martin hosting art exhibition highlighting Underground Railroad

Posted: Wednesday, August 15, 2012 6:00 pm

The Messenger 08.15.12

Color in Freedom: Journey along the Underground Railroad is a new art exhibition now open at the University of Tennessee at Martin.
A collection of 27 paintings, etchings and drawings by Joseph Holston created to capture the struggle for freedom and expression within the framework of a particular period in American history, Color in Freedom will be on display at the Paul Meek Library Mondays through Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Sept. 21.
“It is a very exciting exhibit. The artist uses paintings, etchings and pencil drawings to depict the plight of African American slaves from their passage on slave ships to their freedom due to the Underground Railroad,” said Samuel Richardson, head of the UT Martin Department of Special Collections and Archives and university museum curator.
The stories of the Underground Railroad are some of the most powerful in American history. Holston captures the essence of the courage and determination required to escape, enhances understanding of the condition of slavery and explores the powerful instinct toward freedom.
The exhibit consists of four movements that track the flow of events in the lives of those who traveled along the Underground Railroad: The Unknown World, Living in Bondage – Life on the Plantation, The Journey of Escape and, finally, Color in Freedom.
The Unknown World depicts the dichotomy between the old world and new, using strong juxtaposition of warm colors against somber and muted tones, depicting despair, loss and the harsh adjustment to the unknown life that awaits the enslaved.
Living in Bondage opens with Dawn of Despair, as the slaves awaken not simply to the dawn of a new day, but of an entirely new world where Holston’s trademark use of line, form and color are employed to convey a wide range of emotions. Journey of Escape showcases Holston’s use of light to interpret the dream and hope of freedom and the conviction of those in search of freedom despite grim realities.
Color in Freedom depicts music and dance through an exhilarating explosion of color signaling the beginning of a life in freedom.
Holston is a critically acclaimed artist and has exhibited all over the United States, including the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum in Washington, D.C. He has been an artist-in-residence and a guest lecturer at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro and at the Experimental Printmaking Institute at Lafayette College in Easton, Pa.
His works are also included in many permanent collections including the Yale University Art Gallery, the Lyndon B. Johnson Library at the University of Texas, the Baltimore Museum of Art and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in New York.
For more information on the Color in Freedom exhibit at UT Martin, contact Richardson at (731) 881-7094 or


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