Jan 2, 2013

The Route of the Freedom Riders Via Charlotta Janssen

Artist Charlotta Janssen’s Freedom Riders portraits are now on display at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art through January 27th. Janssen brought the Civil Rights Movement back to life by painting mug shots of those people who were taken into custody for not complying with segregation laws. Her portraits consist of paint with collage, each one a study of a moment in that person’s life.

Born in Maine, Charlotta lived at one time in West Berlin and also in Iran. Two places where one had to keep their mouth shut about their rights, especially as a woman and an American.

Photo by Anita Jones
Once Charlotta talked with Freedom Rider Joseph Charles Jones, she felt even more compelled to re-tell their story with pictures. Being from New York she had never experienced the south. “The issue of race is a really sad subject. It’s so unnecessary, but it has deep roots and a deep history and you have to deal with them in order to be able to move on. I think that I can be of help with dealing with a history like that because I’ve had to learn by default to deal with that history by birth—by the fact that I was born German, as well as American.” Janssen’s creation shows riders from all over the country, not just the south. This is her tribute.

Janssen, also produced a collection of portraits from the Great Depression, which is well worth looking at too.