LAWRENCEVILLE - Decades ago a meeting place for the Ku Klux Klan, Stone Mountain Park is trading in that history and instead will celebrate Black History Month with an art exhibit on black soldiers.
"Courage of Conviction: The African-American Soldier," an exhibit featuring the paintings of Ted Ellis opens this weekend at the park's Memorial Hall Museum.
"We are thrilled to have an exhibit honoring black soldiers," said Cindy Horton, historic attractions supervisor at the park. "Stone Mountain Park has always been a place to honor American history, and this is a new facet as the paintings bring vitality and realism to a part of American life unknown to many."
Ellis, a self-taught painter, captured soldiers throughout history in the 11 paintings, including men who fought for the North and the South during the Civil War; the Buffalo Soldiers who helped settle the West; those who served in World War I and World War II as cooks and infantrymen; and the famed Tuskegee Airmen.
His art blends realism and impressionism.
"I'm very proud of this exhibit and I feel it truly captures the life of an African-American soldier," Ellis said about the work. "I'm often amazed at the commitment and sacrifices African-American soldiers made for a country who did not accept them. I hope each painting is a reminder of their service and loyalty."
The exhibit also features photographs, artifacts and archival film footage from 1776 to World War II, focusing on stories of black Georgians in America's military history. School field trips will combine a 90-minute interactive program with the Ellis exhibit.
People can view the art from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the museum through March 31.
Individual admission for the museum is $9 for adults and $7 for children ages 3 to 11. Admission can also be granted with an Adventure Pass, on sale for $26 for adults and $21 for those 3 to 11.
For more information on "Courage of Conviction," school field trips or other park attractions, visit stonemountainpark.com.