Blog

  • George W's Innocence Project

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    I’ve got a stone in my shoe. It’s been there for 18 painful years. I can’t seem to accommodate myself to it. Because every so often it grows another sharp edge. Those familiar with the Americans Who Tell the Truth portrait project know that the stone planted itself in my shoe shortly after 9/11 when the Bush administration launched the propaganda for attacking Iraq. This was a war crime. At Nuremberg after World War II we hung Nazis for similar crimes against humanity.
  • To Stand Up a Stone

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    The following blog post originated as an address given byRobert Shetterlyat the Brunswick [Maine]Peace Fair, August 3, 2019. I was talking with my friend Roger Kirby recently about his work. He’s a painter. He’s English and summers in Brooksville [Maine] near me. He told me he’s become fascinated with the ancient standing stones located in over 1,000 sites around the U.K. and Brittany.
  • Who Will Save Us?

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    Note: Today's blog entry is the text of Robert Shetterly's opening address at the Climate Convergence Conference in Blue Hill, Maine on July 20, 2019. I begin withGauguin’s greatpainting which asks the questions:Where do we come from? Who are we? Where are we going? Dinosaurs lived 200 million years on this planet, andmy guess is that they neverfelt the need - much less had the ability - to ask such questions. And we can be pretty surethey never questioned Nature’s laws.
  • Death of a Warbler

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    I was sitting at the kitchen table reading Elizabeth Kolbert's article in The New Yorker (May 20, 2019) about species extinction. Such a litany of loss overfills the reservoir of one’s grief while its calm, ordered prose provides a dam to hold it back. Suddenly there was a soft thud on the window behind me. I jumped. Two pale down feathers were stuck to the glass.
  • On Getting Arrested at Bath Iron Works, April 27, 2019

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    A couple of weeks ago I chose to get arrested at a demonstration at Bath Iron Works (BIW) in Bath, Maine. The day was cold, windy, and wet. A huge new battleship, the USS Lyndon Baines Johnson, was being launched. BIW is one of two shipyards in the U.S. capable of building these mammoth, deadly ships. Maine’s Congresspeople and Senators were there along with the top executives of BIW and General Dynamics, the parent company of BIW - as well as hundreds of other guests - to extol our military might.
  • How to Think about Frederick Douglass’s Feet of Clay 

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    Not saints, flawed human beings. I’ve told people ever since I began painting the Americans Who Tell the Truth portraits: I don’t paint saints. They’re all real people. No heroes on pedestals. Just like us. Not religious saints, not secular saints. A few icons, maybe, but all real people. That means any one of us can lead the life of a portrait subject. What they all share is a common determination to bend the long moral arc of the universe toward justice.
  • Fairness. A Sparrow. A Robin.

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    I was driving home from the Conners Emerson School in Bar Harbor where I had spent the day with three first grade andone fourth grade class.For reasons I’m not sure of,I began thinking of this Bible verse: "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father." (King James Bible) That’s unusual for me. I rarely remember Bible verses. In each class of ten kids we had sat in a circle on a rug andtalked about fairness.
  • Every Cog and Wheel

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    “To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.” --- Aldo Leopold On reading Jill Lepore’s masterful new history of the United States, These Truths, one cannot overstate the importance of telling a country’s story honestly --for how else, but for all the triumphs, the failures, the ideals, the hypocrisies, the myths and denials do we know who we really are? Ms.
  • Some Reflections on the Portrait Exhibit at Syracuse University

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    Before coming to Syracuse University for the opening of the Americans Who Tell the Truth portrait exhibit, a number of people asked me what it was going to feel like to see all the portraits at once. In retrospect, this question seems like asking a thirteen year old how it will feel to be married, or a medical student how it will feel to save a life.
  • Accountability, History, Identity & the Liberty Medal

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    Recently the Texas board of education decided to remove slavery from its school textbooks. When a story isn't told, or its truth is altered, it slips from memory, slips from the accumulated identity people internalize by knowing their common history. As strong as the desire is for all of us to deny the worst we do, if we eradicate the worst, we have no idea who we are. All the social facts, customs, conditions, injustices, ramifications still deriving from that past are now free-floating, causeless.