Maine artist Robert ShetterlyMaine artist Robert ShetterlyRobert Shetterly creates portraits that are meant to engage viewers in more than just a visual manner. Shetterly hopes that with his work, he might inspire a more honest and just society.

During his talk, Shetterly will display portraits from his Americans Who Tell the Truth series that bear specifically on environmental and climate justice issues. He will discuss the people portrayed in his art and outline his concept of personal responsibility in the face of pressing social and environmental problems.

The talk takes place in McCormick Lecture Hall on Tuesday, Nov. 10, beginning at 4:10 p.m. It is free and open to the public.

The Americans Who Tell the Truth series includes visual and verbal imagery that highlight citizens who courageously address issues of social, environmental, and economic fairness. By combining art and other media, the series is meant to inspire a new generation of engaged citizens who will act for the common good, our communities, and the Earth.

“Engaged citizens in every state are determined to solve issues of inequality and injustice, pollution and poor education, money in the political system and corporate media failing to tell the truths citizens in a democracy need to know. The problems are big, but the number of people wanting them corrected is big, too,” Shetterly said in an artist’s statement. “Our cynicism and depression will only increase if we expect government to solve these problems for us. We have to demand change, as Frederick Douglass said, and we have to be willing to do it ourselves. The models of courageous citizenship that make up Americans Who Tell the Truth can help.”

Shetterly’s paintings and prints are in collections all over the U.S. and Europe. A collection of his drawings and etchings, Speaking Fire at Stones, was published in 1993. He is well known for his series of 70 painted etchings based on William Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell,” and for another series of 50 painted etchings reflecting on the metaphor of the Annunciation.

Edward Abbey, by Robert ShetterlyEdward Abbey, by Robert ShetterlyThe Americans Who Tell the Truth exhibit has been traveling around the country since 2003. Venues have included everything from university museums and grade school libraries to sandwich shops, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City, the Superior Court in San Francisco and the International Civil rights Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina. In 2005, Dutton published a book of the portraits by the same name. In 2006, the book won the top award of the International Reading Association for Intermediate non-fiction. There are now well over 200 portraits in the collection.

Shetterly graduated in 1969 from Harvard College with a degree in English Literature and moved to Maine in 1970, where he taught himself drawing, printmaking, and painting. He lives in Brooksville with his partner Gail Page, a painter and children’s book writer and illustrator.

The Human Ecology Forum is a weekly speaker series based on the work of the academic community, which also draws on artists, poets, political, and religious leaders from around the world. The forum is open to the public and meets Tuesdays at 4:10 during the school term in the McCormick Lecture Hall.