A new exhibit exploring racial injustice through the lens of white privilege through the paintings of Mississippi native and current San Francisco artist Stephen Mangum will open on May 4 at Troy University’s Rosa Parks Museum.
A reception and an artist meet-and-greet will be held at 6 p.m. on May 4 in the museum’s gallery. The exhibit will be on display through July 22 and is available for free viewing during the museum’s normal hours of operation.
Born in Mississippi in 1954, Mangum’s “Illusions of My Childhood” collection confronts his Southern heritage. As a white child growing up in Greenwood, Miss., in the 1950s and ‘60s, his memories are of playing baseball and kick-the-can, riding his bike, and taking art lessons — not of the plight of Black citizens during that same time period. He was a toddler when Emmett Till was abducted and murdered in nearby Money, Mississippi, and was a third grader when Medgar Evers was assassinated in Jackson. As a teenager, however, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was gunned down in Memphis, Tennessee, Mangum became fully aware of the depth of the hatred and bigotry that surrounded him.
Recreating scenes from the struggle for Civil Rights by such 1960s photojournalists as Charles Moore, Matt Herron, and Bill Hudson, and then superimposing current day portraits of his grandchildren, Mangum’s paintings link the past with the present. By illustrating that the racism and inhumanity of his childhood continue to permeate the American landscape, he hopes to encourage dialogue towards unity.
A graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, Mangum’s paintings in recent years have been focused on themes of racism and social justice through portraiture and figuration in a contemporary realism style.
Eight of Mangum’s paintings were included in the Lunar Codex, the first digital archive of art to be stored on the surface of the moon. He has also been featured in American Art Collector, International Artist, and many art journals. Mangum is a member of the Portrait Society of America, the International Guild of Realism, and the Nation Oil and Acrylic Painters Society.
“The Rosa Parks Museum is excited to share Stephen Mangum’s Illusions of My Childhood exhibit and hope it will prompt visitors to examine their own privilege in the struggle for unity and equity,” said Donna Beisel, Director of Operations for the Museum.
Some images in this exhibit are graphic and may be triggering for some viewers.
Exhibits in the museum’s gallery are free for viewing during normal operating hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays.