Truth and Reconciliation Visual Art Exhibition


Art has the power to transform. To uplift and empower, to inspire and ignite.

July 19 through October 31, 2021

This exhibition of artwork presents a wide range of artistic media, including portraits, paintings, poetry and more to address the themes of truth and reconciliation after increased violence against Black and Brown communities over the past 18 months, the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on those communities and the systemic racism that has plagued our nation.

Featured artists in the Freedom Center’s Truth and Reconciliation Visual Art Exhibition include:

  • Brent Billingsley’s Painted Pieces of TRUTH and Spoken Words of RECONCILIATION. The work is a collaborative project involving fine art and spoken word poetry. In the work, the American flag serves as the them that unites iconic Americans from different cultural backgrounds.
  • Gee Horton with Phyllis Jeffers-Coly and LaDe Richardson’s The Baobab Project. Drawing from traditional African rites of passage, The Baobab Project explores ways in which Black men come of age. Conceptually, this work is rooted in the understanding of the majestic baobab tree and the barbershop as sacred communal spaces. Informed by Horton’s own coming of age journey, the project invited men to look inward and reflect on their internal and external identities through barbershop conversations. To date, over 50 Black men from diverse ages and backgrounds have participated in this project and have united to create a beautiful collection of intimate personal portraits.
  • Rebecca Nava Soto’s The Edge Project. Through a combination of Mesoamerican-inspired mixed media paintings, digital projection and an ephemeral floor installation, The Edge Project creates a visual continuum that is grounded in indigenous aesthetics and extends into contemporary Latinx culture. Nava Soto uses writing, image-making and popular materials as mediums through which individuals can explore their presence and participation in a multitude of worlds. The piece considers a person’s individual, familial and communal worlds as edge environments that have the potential to transform.
  • Tyra Patterson’s Time Saved vs. Time Served. Patterson’s use of painted portraits of incarcerated women, all of whom are dressed in prison uniforms, reveals the dehumanizing and brutal restrictions that women confront when incarcerated. The work seeks to shed light on these restrictions, about which the public may be unaware, and emphasize the inequities of prison conditions for men and women.
  • Michael Coppage’s Black Box. Black Box reclaims the word “black” and aims to strip it of the negative connotations society and implicit biases have reinforced over centuries. The work features portaits of Black men in shirts with a noun preceded by the word black: Black List, Black Market, Blackout, Black Eye. The portraits are vehicles through which Coppage demystifies Black men by encouraging viewers to gain an awareness of the ways in which they use and consume colors and to develop an understanding of the hidden and loaded meanings attached to them. Through his work, the artist seeks to foster discourse around education and healing and thus promote empathy and compassion.

The Truth and Reconciliation initiative is part of ArtsWave’s Black & Brown Artist Grants program in partnership with the City of Cincinnati, born out of 2020’s crises of racial and social injustice. The initiative features projects from 27 local artists funded by $272,000 in grants through ArtsWave and the City of Cincinnati.

In addition to the several artists featured at the Freedom Center as part of the Truth and Reconciliation Visual Art Exhibition, a performance showcase and film screenings are planned throughout the run, beginning with film screenings at the Freedom Center July 17 and performances at Memorial Hall July 18. View the full program schedule on→

Funding for the grants and the artist showcase comes from the City of Cincinnati, Greater Cincinnati Foundation, Duke Energy, Fifth Third Bank, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and ArtsWave’s Arts Vibrancy Recovery Fund. Artist selection through a competitive, community-based selection process was chaired by Toilynn O’Neal, founder of the Robert O’Neal Multi Cultural Arts Center (ROMAC).


Third Floor
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
50 East Freedom Way, Cincinnati, OH 45202


Included with General Admission, free for Members

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