JANUARY 17, 2017 - APRIL 15, 2017
Curated by Rebecca Giordano
ABOUT THE EXHIBITION
Scheduled to be on view in the Christian-Green Gallery in Spring 2017, March ON! features hand-inked images from the acclaimed graphic memoir, MARCH. Written by US Representative and Civil Rights leader John Lewis with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell, the three-volume series details Lewis’ momentous political life and philosophical commitment to non-violence. The selections in the exhibition cover events from Lewis’ crucial role in the Civil Right struggles of the 1960s, recount personal moments of discovery, and elaborate the non-violent strategies used throughout the Civil Rights Movement.
Poignantly told and artfully rendered, Nate Powell’s illustrations utilize an innovative brush and ink style that evokes the emotional memory of dark times, roaring crowds, and glorious triumphs. Historical photographs and ephemera as well as art of the 1960s that highlights the aesthetic and political significance of the graphic memoir join the original pages.
John Lewis is the U.S. Representative for Georgia’s fifth congressional district and an American icon widely known for his role in the civil rights movement.
As a student at American Baptist Theological Seminary in 1959, Lewis organized sit-in demonstrations at segregated lunch counters in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1961, he volunteered to participate in the Freedom Rides, which challenged segregation at interstate bus terminals across the South. He was beaten severely by angry mobs and arrested by police for challenging the injustice of “Jim Crow” segregation in the South. From 1963 to 1966, Lewis was Chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). At the age of 23, he was an architect of and a keynote speaker at the historic March on Washington in August 1963. In 1964, John Lewis coordinated SNCC efforts to organize voter registration drives and community action programs during the Mississippi Freedom Summer. Together with Hosea Williams, another notable civil rights leader, John Lewis led over 600 peaceful, orderly protestors across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, on March 7, 1965. The marchers were attacked by Alabama state troopers in a brutal confrontation that became known as “Bloody Sunday.” News broadcasts and photographs revealing the senseless cruelty of the segregated South helped hasten the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Despite physical attacks, serious injuries, and more than 40 arrests, John Lewis remained a devoted advocate of the philosophy of nonviolence. After leaving SNCC in 1966, he continued to work for civil rights, first as Associate Director of the Field Foundation, then with the Southern Regional Council, where he became Executive Director of the Voter Education Project. In 1977, Lewis was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to direct more than 250,000 volunteers of ACTION, the federal volunteer agency.
In 1981, Lewis was elected to the Atlanta City Council. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in November 1986 and represented Georgia’s fifth district there ever since. In 2011 he was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.
Lewis’ 1998 memoir Walking with the Wind: A Memoir of the Movement won numerous honors, including the Robert F. Kennedy, Lillian Smith, and Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards. His subsequent book, Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change, won the NAACP Image Award.
Andrew Aydin, an Atlanta native, currently serves as Digital Director & Policy Advisor in the Washington, D.C., office of Rep. John Lewis. After learning that his boss had been inspired as a young man by the 1950s comic book Martin Luther King & The Montgomery Story, Aydin conceived the March series and collaborated with Rep. Lewis to write it, while also composing a master’s thesis on the history and impact of The Montgomery Story. Today, he continues to write comics and lecture about the history of comics in the civil rights movement. Aydin is a graduate of the Lovett School in Atlanta, Trinity College in Hartford, and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Visit www.andrewaydin.com for more information.
Nate Powell is a New York Times best-selling comic book artist/writer born in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1978. He began self-publishing at age 14, and graduated from School of Visual Arts in 2000. His work includes You Don’t Say, Any Empire, Swallow Me Whole,The Silence of Our Friends, The Year of the Beasts, and Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero. Powell’s comics have received such honors as the Eisner Award, two Ignatz Awards, four YALSA Great Graphic Novels for Teens selections, and a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist selection. In addition to March, Powell has spoken about his work at the United Nations and created animated illustrations for SPLC’s documentary Selma: The Bridge to the Ballot. Powell is currently writing and drawing his next book, Cover, and drawing Two Dead with writer Van Jansen. He lives in Bloomington, Indiana. Visit Nate’s website at www.seemybrotherdance.org for more information.