News Release

News and Public Information Office
Glos Center
Miami University
Oxford, Ohio 45056
(513) 529-7592
(513) 529-1950 fax

Artist Robert Shetterly inspired by Miami employee Dolores Volk


written by Denise Spranger, School of Education, Health & Society

Detail from the portrait of Dolores Volk and Elizabeth Freeman by Robert Shetterly
Detail from the portrait of Dolores Volk and Elizabeth Freeman by Robert Shetterly
A portrait of Miami University employee Dolores Volk will soon take its place among “Americans Who Tell the Truth," a series of more than 180 paintings created by Cincinnati native Robert Shetterly.

Spanning the decades from President Abraham Lincoln to contemporary advocate for educational social justice Mara Sapon-Shevin, Shetterly’s portraits honor those who serve as “models of courageous citizenship.”

Exhibits of Shetterly’s works have been hanging in McGuffey Hall since 2010.

As a custodian at the School of Education, Health & Society, Volk admired Shetterly’s exhibit during her rounds on the night shift in McGuffey. Yet she felt that one face in particular was missing from Shetterly’s pantheon of citizens, so she emailed the artist himself last summer.

The subject of Volk's email was neither a statesman nor a prominent figure, but rather a former slave by the name of Elizabeth Freeman (circa 1742-1829). Freeman, also known as Mum Bett, was among the first black slaves in Massachusetts to file a “freedom suit” and win in court under the state's 1780 constitution, with a ruling that slavery was illegal.

“What drew me to her story,” says Volk, “was her courage and tenacity and the fact that she risked everything in the hope of being free.”

Shetterly was touched by Volk’s suggestion and began research on the life of Freeman. As reported in the Brookville Democrat (January 9, 2013), Shetterly “liked what he found” about Freeman and also appreciated that it was Volk who had brought Freeman’s story to his attention.

Inspired to honor both Freeman and Volk in a new work, Shetterly will unveil his recent painting March 28. The painting will be hung in McGuffey Hall.

The School of Education, Health & Society invites the public to the second annual Partnership Recognition, with a portrait unveiling and artist reception to honor these three Americans Who Tell the Truth: Elizabeth Freeman, Dolores Volk and Robert Shetterly.

Thursday, March 28,
322 McGuffey Hall

4:15 – 5:15 p.m.
Open exhibit and reception

5:15 - 6:30 p.m.
Portrait unveiling

6:30 - 7:30 p.m. Meet and greet the artist


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