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The Civil Rights Prints of Billy Morrow Jackson Exhibition Opens

Saturday, February 15
Starts at 10:00 AM

McLean County Museum of History
200 N. Main St, Bloomington IL 61701

The Civil Rights Prints of Billy Morrow Jackson  Exhibition Opens

The McLean County Museum of History announces a temporary exhibit featuring eight prints by Billy Morrow Jackson 

Graphically depicting some of the major protagonists, settings, and encounters of the Civil Rights movement, the prints are being presented in connection with the recently open exhibit Challenges, Choices, & Change: A Community in Conflict

Billy Morrow Jackson was a white artist based in Central Illinois, whose subjects consisted of rural landscapes, farmhouses, portraits of friends and family, similar in tone and style to the paintings of Andrew Wyeth. But in this print series, he departed from his usual practices and created a portfolio that reflected the heroes and villains of the then, current, civil rights movement. The origin of his interest in the Civil Rights Movement is obscure. However, one factor could have been his interracial marriage. The couple were married in 1949, a time when interracial marriage was a courageous undertaking. Whatever the impetus, Jackson wanted to support the civil rights social justice agenda.

The prints were created in response to the Birmingham, Alabama Church bombing in 1963 and the killing of several civil rights workers in Mississippi in 1964. In these works, Jackson has put the perpetration of violence against innocent people into perspective, using the motif of wild animals and recounting terrible crimes. Jackson especially emphasized the “villains” who were in opposition to Civil Rights. The illusion of civilization has been stripped from the villains, whose atrocities were exercised on non-violent protestors who were merely seeking their full measure of citizenship. Through the prints Jackson exposes the bastardized version of religion and patriotism, to clearly indicate what civil rights activist of the era were up against—death.