Prof. Jean Grosser to Participate in Freedom Rides Exhibit

For more information, contact Barb Steadman - 843.857.4199

HARTSVILLE, S.C. – Feb. 3, 2011 – Coker College Art Professor Jean Grosser has been invited to show her work in “Road to Equality: The 1961 Freedom Rides," an exhibit at the historic Greyhound bus station in Montgomery, Ala., that opens to the public on May 20.

“This show is an excellent fit for me since it focuses directly on a decades-long interest I’ve had in human rights,” said Grosser. “I also see it as a tremendous opportunity to help students develop a fuller understanding not only of this important chapter in our national story but also of the capacity that young people have to create positive change today,” she said.

On May 20, 1961, 21 students arrived at Montgomery’s Greyhound bus station in hopes of compelling the U.S. government to enforce Supreme Court decisions outlawing segregated transportation seating and facilities. Mob violence met the inter-racial student group and led the Kennedy administration to issue a sweeping ruling that effectively ended segregation in interstate bus, train and air transportation. To this day the Freedom Rides represent, for many, a turning point in our national history and highlight the power of nonviolent protests.

Jean GrosserCommemorating the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides, project organizers, the Alabama Historical Commission and the Alabama State Council on the Arts, intend for the year-long exhibit to extend the award-winning work already completed on the building’s exterior.  “Road to Equality” will both tell the story and convey importance of the 1961 Freedom Rides.

“By asking artists like Jean to interpret this significant historic event, we hope to expand the dialogue that history museums have with their visitors,” explained Mark Driscoll, the Alabama Historical Commission’s director of historic sites. “We can tell people what happened here, but the artists will help them to look in new ways at the Freedom Rides, the places where events happened and the people that shaped our world.”

Exhibit curator Georgine Clarke, visual arts coordinator of the Alabama State Council on the Arts, selected artists who are native to or working in areas along the Freedom Rides route—from Washington, D.C. and Nashville, Tenn. to Jackson, Miss.—or whose body of work addresses the struggle for equal rights in America.

“We were looking for art that extended beyond a documentation of the historic event,” said Clarke. “Because Jean Grosser has such a significant history of art addressing political events and issues of social justice, we were particularly interested in including her. Her very personal assemblage pieces will be able to capture not only the violent history but also present the potential for change.”

Convinced that the most effective way to transform hatred is to challenge it with honesty and humanity, Grosser has built a body of work that is inspired by political events and tackles global issues of human rights, religious freedom and free trade. In addition to the works she has created about health care inequities in the U.S. and racial tension in the American South, she is developing a series of pieces about being Jewish and coming to terms with ethnic and racial hatred spawned by the American Neo-Nazi movement.

Joseph Carter, age 22 by Jean GrosserGrosser chairs the art department and is a member of the board of trustees at Coker College in Hartsville, S.C. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Barnard College, a Bachelor of Fine Arts in sculpture from Alfred State College of Ceramics and a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture from Ohio University.  Grosser was awarded the Individual Artist’s Fellowship from the South Carolina Arts Commission and was a finalist for the Southern Arts Federation/National Endowment for the Arts Regional Fellowships in Sculpture.

Image Title:  Joseph Carter, age 22


Coker College readies undergraduates for personal and professional success through a distinctive four-year program that emphasizes a practical application of the liberal arts as well as hands-on and discussion-based learning within and beyond the classroom. Coker is ranked among the “Best Colleges” in the South by U.S. News & World Report as well as The Princeton Review. Located in Hartsville, S.C., Coker is within two hours of the cultural, financial and recreational resources of Charlotte, Columbia, Charleston and Myrtle Beach.

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