Inspirational Art Exhibit Coming to Cayuga’s Auburn, Fulton Campuses

A powerful art exhibit honoring individuals advocating for economic, environmental, racial and social justice will be featured at both Cayuga Community College campuses this spring.

In February and March, the College’s Studio Art & Design Program is featuring “Americans Who Tell the Truth,” an exhibit of reproductions of portraits by artist Robert Shetterly. The exhibit is on loan from the Southern Cayuga Anne Frank Tree Project, a not-for-profit dedicated to education and empowering students and community members to advance equity and social justice.

“This stunning exhibit is a collection of portraits of individuals who did their part or are doing their part now for justice and change. Each portrait gives a glimpse into their fearless fight for justice,” said Cayuga Professor Melissa Johnson, who coordinated featuring the exhibit at the College with the assistance of Lou Lombardo, Bill Zimpfer and the Southern Cayuga Anne Frank Tree Project. “We’re grateful to the Southern Cayuga Anne Frank Tree Project for sharing these powerful images with our students and doing their important work in our community.”

The prints will be on display in the Auburn Campus Library from Feb. 13 to March 9 and at the Fulton Campus from March 13 to March 24. The College will also screen a documentary about Shetterly, “Truth Tellers,” at noon on Feb. 15 in the Auburn Campus Library. The screening and opening reception following the screening are open to the public. For more information, email

Shetterly’s work features portraits with inscribed quotes that address prevalent issues related to justice, equity, diversity and citizenship. He’s completed more than 260 portraits, with subjects ranging from authors and athletes like Zora Neale Hurston and Muhammad Ali to historic figures like Rosa Parks and political leaders like Dwight Eisenhower.

“Americans Who Tell the Truth” encourages viewers to reflect on the struggle for economic, environmental, racial and social justice. Shetterly’s portraits honor the bold work of many individuals who took risks to make a difference in society, said Johnson. Each portrait captures the likeness, personality and strength of the featured person.

“This exhibit shows our students an example of art playing a role in social justice movements, and that art can be used to celebrate something meaningful and to speak out against injustice,” she said. “It’s truly inspirational work that we look forward to sharing.”

This semester students in Cayuga’s Studio Art and Design Program will complete portraits after viewing the exhibit and considering its message. Featuring the exhibit is also part of a larger effort to incorporate artists who feature issues of diversity and social justice in their work, said Johnson.

This semester students in her courses are visiting the Picker Art Gallery at Colgate University, which is displaying an exhibit titled “A Wicked Commerce: The U.S. and Atlantic Slave Trade Through the Lens of William Earle Willams,” and “Nona Faustine: White Shoes,” an exhibit examining the history of slavery in New York City.

Students will also visit the Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University and the Skä•noñh Great Law of Peace Center, a Haudenosaunee Cultural Center that tells the history of the Onondaga Nation.

For more information on “Americans Who Tell the Truth, visit Details on the Southern Cayuga Anne Frank Tree Project can be found at