Robert Matheson

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Latest Creation: State of Awe

State of Awe - Acrylic on Canvas

Acrylic on Canvas 185" x 75"

This work is currently on exhibit at the Newberry Opera House as part of the Juneteenth Festival of events in Newberry, SC. It is a collaboration between local artist Robert Matheson, the Newberry Juneteenth Festival Committee and the City of Newberry.

The goal of the painting is to chronicle the unbroken chain of resistance, sacrifice and selfless leadership that emerged from the black community over generations of state sanctioned human trafficking and enslavement by European colonial powers. From Queen Njinga's efforts to prevent the Portuguese from enslaving her people to Barrack Obama rising to the Presidency of the United States of America. This painting is for the millions of men, women and children who have resisted racial injustice and led the way to greater equality for all of humanity.

Let us not become complacent. George Floyd, Ahmad Arbury, Breanna Taylor and countless others remind us that the quest for racial equality is far from over. The next generation of leaders are needed for continued progress.

Newberry's own Dr. Julian Edward Grant, Police Chief McClurkin, Councilman Goudelock and many others sacrificed and worked selflessly to ensure access to the roles of government currently occupied by Councilmember's Glasgow, Holmes and Kinard. All are connected through their noble heritage and strength of leadership.

The title of the painting was inspired by local author Jerry Lane from his book Hot Flashes. A special thank you to all the photographers for their efforts in capturing the historical events and portraits used to assemble this collage (credits below). The creative process used to create the painting began with guidance from the Juneteenth committee, followed by the creation of a digital collage that was projected onto the canvas and painted using acrylic paint.

Photo Credits:
Queen Njinga - Rui de Matos (sculptor)
Frederick Douglas - Unknown (public domain)
Robert Smalls - Unknown (public domain)
Harriet Tubman - Unknown (public domain)
Malcolm X - Michael Ochs
Tommie Smith - Bettmann
Martin Luther King, Jr. - Julian Wasser
Black Soldier - Unknown (National Archives)
Dr. Julian Edward Grant - Unknown (Newberry Museum)
Police Chief Roy McClurkin - Unknown (City of Newberry)
Councilman Zebbie Goudelock - Unknown (Wilson Funeral Home)
Councilwoman Jackie Holmes - Unknown (City of Newberry)
Councilman Carlton Kinard - Elyssa Haven (Newberry Observer)

*Paint generously donated by Earth Safe Finishes/Nancy Burkhart