Underground Railroad 2015: Life of a Freedom Seeker

Underground Railroad 2015: Life of a Freedom Seeker


I wanted to tell the truth, I tried to get
right at the truth in telling these stories about African Americans during the time of
the Underground Railroad and I did a lot of research to make sure that you know I had
at least as much accuracy about each segment of that persons life to where I could do these
paintings. What prompted me to do this was the fact that my son, he was working on a
paper to do with Harriet Tubman and when I heard that paper that he did orally it excited
me so much that I wanted to hear more about the Underground Railroad. So that is probably
the first that sort of stroked my interest and then I further read more information on
it and afterwards you know I said I could do a lot of work to do with the Underground
Railroad and its important, even myself I don’t know very much about the history of
African Americans here in the United States and how they evolved and just what happened.
So I could see vividly in my mind that I could do a lot of paintings you know with this,
I could make great paintings from this and telling the story. I can tell the visual story
people don’t know and its not taught enough in schools, grade school or high school, you
know you have to major in it to really know about black history and so with these paintings
here I just feel like I could be very vivid, these are pictures, imagery, you know it sticks
in peoples mind. That’s one of the reasons why some of these paintings are life sized
is because that I want the viewer to be a part of it in a way where they’re in the scene,
not so much to be apart to where they’re in action of it but you know they feel what’s
going on, it moves them in that sense, they’re like a bystander but they’re there. I try
to think about how can I make the composition in a way where it keeps the viewer’s eye moving.
Action is really important, you know that you’ve saw in these pieces so when I started
drawing, I think about how I can sort of exaggerate the imagery to really get the person really
involved or know what I’m trying to say with the people right away. If you were a slave
back then and you wanted freedom and you were you know determined to get it you would experience
this, so you know I can talk about it in a calm way but people would not get the impact,
people would not have the idea what it took for a freedom seeker to attain freedom. I’m
not watering it down, I’m giving it to you like it was written and like I said when I
heard this story I said I can make paintings out of this, I can show it very vividly. Now
I’m not trying to you know promote violence or anything like that but its just what happened
and people tend to want to water things down and I just want people to know the truth,
I’d like for them to come away with a good sense of history or knowledge about African
American history and not just with blacks but with Whites, all types of nationalities,
I want them to know about the history that’s very important to me and also to get a sense
of satisfaction by the artistic-ness of the artwork, conveying that idea or the story.

1 thought on “Underground Railroad 2015: Life of a Freedom Seeker”

  1. "Underground Railroad 2015” showcases the work of Mark A. Priest, fine arts professor at the Hite Art Institute at the University of Louisville. The exhibit features four series of paintings and drawings focusing on historically significant people or places associated with slavery in America prior to the Civil War: Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Charles Nalle, and the building of Joseph Stewart’s Canal. The exhibit is on display at the Schneider Hall galleries and the Cressman Center through Feb. 28.

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