Posted on Jan 10, 2013
By Thomas Hedges, Center for Study of Responsive Law
Pfc. Bradley Manning, U.S. Army intelligence analyst and alleged WikiLeaks source.
Robert Shetterly, 66, is a painter who travels to schools, museums and sandwich shops across the country with an exhibit he has been working on for more than 10 years called “Americans Who Tell the Truth.” The portraits feature such activists as James Baldwin, Bradley Manning and Chief Joseph Hinmton Yalektit. These are people, Shetterly says, who have preserved democracy and exposed lies.
Shetterly’s paintings defy contemporary art, which is steeped in commercialization. He dislikes abstract works that fail to express anything real. That sort of art, he says, is about comfort. It is about happiness and distraction. Whether it is pretentious conceptual academic art, or vapid expressions of serenity that serve only to fulfill your apartment’s feng shui, Shetterly says that most art today has been tainted by unfettered capitalism, which values consumer interests over truth.
“Artists today,” Shetterly says from his home on Deer Isle, Maine, “are using the dominant culture system to determine how they value themselves and I think that’s a very dangerous thing for artists. ... Art is one of the few places where critical voices can live. Even in universities these days it can’t live with so much political pressure. The real voice is lost.”
“Art,” he says, “is one of the last places where people can have the freedom to live outside the system, or at least on its scraps, instead of trying to be one with it, which robs you of your voice finally. It’s so easy to be co-opted.
“This system will take anything from anybody and if it can commodify it, it will embrace it.” .............(more)