New Exhibition Celebrates Black Military Veterans

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center - Wednesday, August 05, 2020

Photographer Ed Drew has spent more than a year working on MTCC's upcoming exhibition.The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center will unveil this September a new exhibition focused on Black military veterans in Arkansas.

“This exhibit is important to MTCC because it highlights the rarely told stories of Arkansas veterans, many of whom served abroad while being denied basic rights at home,” said Christina Shutt, director.

Little Rock photographer Ed Drew, who is also a veteran, has been working on the project for more than a year. The exhibition includes about 30 tintype photos of African American veterans in addition to a handful of cyanotypes printed from silver gelatin glass plate negatives and typed letters from Arkansas Confederate soldiers who wrote home during the Civil War. The exhibition is meant to juxtapose art, time spans and racial trajectories in Arkansas.

Drew’s photographic process, called wet-plate collodion, was developed before the Civil War and creates hauntingly beautiful portraits.“Ed’s work blends history, culture and artistic portraiture to produce images that evoke the past while also bearing witness to the present,” Shutt said.

The exhibition will spotlight issues and stories of African Americans in Arkansas. Among the roughly 207,000 veterans living in Arkansas, about 23,000 are black, according to the most-recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau. African Americans have served in every American war since the Revolutionary War, but they still faced assaults, bigotry and inequality, despite their service and valor.

Little has been done to collect the stories and spotlight the service of Black veterans, which makes this exhibition important, Drew and Shutt said.

“It’s the history of this country, and for me, most importantly, it’s the history of African American veterans who are rarely spoken about,” Drew said.

The exhibition will be up through February, and plans are underway for a virtual opening reception in September. For more information, contact the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center at 501-683-3593.




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