Let’s Celebrate Freedom!

The Bryan Museum is proud to showcase Free at Last, a painting by Ted Ellis. The painting, which has been shown at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, TX. and in Washington D.C. by both the Senate and the House, will be on display at The Bryan Museum for a limited run. Free at Last has quickly become a symbol behind the Juneteenth movement urging our political leaders in recognizing Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Change.org has recently acquired over 560,000 signatures and counting towards this movement.

Joan Marshall, director of the Bryan Museum, writes “Juneteenth, was our country’s promise fulfilled that all people are created equal. As we celebrate Freedom Day, we are asked to reflect on these events and our country’s path to justice, equality, and inclusion as well as where we are on that path and what can each of us do to move forward the principles and promise of our great nation.”

Artist Ted Ellis wrote, “Free at Last is a historical aid to preserve what is important about us… our struggle to triumph against all odds. Persevere, be forgiving, productive, benevolent, and improve the quality of life for all. I’m proud to be African American. I’m proud of my history. I felt the need to pictorially document our history and legacy. I began the creation of Free at Last on Stringfellow Orchard at a Juneteenth celebration. I sat at the property with my canvas, brushes, and paint. As I surveyed my surroundings, I was caught up within this electrifying environment. I was moved to capture the importance of this event and why in 1865 the last vestige of slavery officially ended. As an artist, I decided to incorporate symbolic images that are culturally significant. For example: the quilt – for storytelling, the oak tree- for strength, the roots- to know our History, the family – for unity, Buffalo Soldiers – for vigilance and service, broken chain – for freedom, hand over heart – for belief in the righteousness, and tear – for the pain and struggle. The three crosses – for the sacrifice, the telling of our history by an elder to a child, the Emancipation Proclamation embedded on the house, and the shape of the map of Texas is also visible.

The painting is now on view at The Bryan Museum.


This program is made possible with funding from Humanities Texas and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) as part of the federal CARES Act.