This is a news release from The University of Southern Mississippi.
Renowned artist Clinard "Clint" Martin has gained increasingly popular traction with his new exhibit, "Red Tails: 332nd Fighter Group, Ramitelli, Italy, W.W.II.", on display now at The University of Southern Mississippi's Cook Library.
More than a dozen paintings commemorate the Tuskegee Airmen, an African-American pilot unit that fought in World War II. The airmen are nationally celebrated for being the first African-American aviators enlisted in the United States Armed Forces. During this period, much of the U.S. was still segregated, including the armed forces.
"I am commissioning myself to keep and uphold the history of the Tuskegee Airmen," said Martin, a McComb, Miss, native.
Although much of America still recalls the aviators' story, Martin feels obligated to uphold the legacy. With all of the portraits in the library, USM students are able to get a real feel for the adventures that these men experienced. "Each portrait is based on an actual mission that they flew," Martin said. "My personal favorite has to be 'Destroyed by Bombs.' "
Martin, who was born in 1939, faced much adversity in getting his artwork before the public's eye. "I was not treated as an artist because there was no art school in Mississippi," he said.
Martin had to work at his talent, basically teaching himself how to show expression on a portrait frame. Now, his work is displayed at universities, government buildings and other public buildings.
Some of the Tuskegee airmen actually visited the Southern Miss campus a few years back, shortly after the 2012 film "Red Tails", was released.
"I like to call them men of color," Martin said. "Some are well into their 90's and some even visited at Southern Miss about three years ago to see some portraits."
Martin's exhibit will be on display at Cook Library until Oct. 28.