Exhibit of Black Civil War soldiers coming to Charleston

February 11, 2022 GMT

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — An art exhibit of portraits of Black soldiers who served in the Civil War is coming to West Virginia’s capital.

Artist and medical illustrator Shayne Davidson has been touring the country with the exhibit titled “Seventeen Men,” named for the 17 soldiers portrayed in the exhibit, since 2012, West Virginia Public Broadcasting reports.

The portraits are based on tiny photos that were in an album once belonging to Davidson’s friend’s great-grandfather. Photos of Black Civil War soldiers are rare, and Davidson said he was fascinated.

Davidson started making full-sized portraits of each man and doing genealogical research to write biographical accounts of their lives.

“Some of them were free when they signed up to serve,” Davidson told the public television and radio network. “Several of them were signed up by their slaveholders, the slaveholder receiving the bounty that would have been paid to the man.”

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The photo album is now in the African American Museum of History and Culture at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., but Davidson’s art has been traveling the country. This spring, the exhibit is coming to Charleston’s Craik-Patton House, a 19th century home listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“With nearly 200,000 African American men serving as soldiers and sailors during the Civil War, it’s a subject that is not often portrayed,” Craik-Patton House Director Nathan Jones said. “And I felt like it would be a wonderful opportunity for us to share this with our community. ”