SPARTANBURG, S.C. – "My paintings are testimonies to the nine who were slain. But I also record another moment; our state's greatest moment… a response that moved us from tragedy to redemption. For one shining moment, we looked at each other not as different races, but as human beings."
Those are the words of Dr. Leo Twiggs, a renowned South Carolina artist who created "Requiem For Mother Emanuel," a series of nine paintings completed in the aftermath of last year's horrific murders at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston.
The six Panthers captains were exposed to those words and those paintings on Monday afternoon.
"I was hoping they would get a sense for what it means to go through a tragedy like this, and at the end of the day, be able to reconcile," head coach Ron Rivera said. "The reconciliation of what happened and Leo Twiggs' art is a really powerful statement for our young men. I think it was important for them to see that."
Cam Newton, Luke Kuechly, Thomas Davis, Ryan Kalil, Charles Johnson and Greg Olsen were joined by Rivera and associate head coach Steve Wilks at The Johnson Collection art gallery, located just down the road from Wofford's campus, to get an exclusive look at Twiggs' powerful artwork.
"Talk about an incredible surprise experience," Olsen said. "To come and walk through a tribute to a terrible event here in South Carolina and see someone as intelligent as Dr. Twiggs – the thought and emotion and what he put into this entire sequence of nine paintings really makes you think. It's really impressive; an amazing display. For us to come experience this together as a group was pretty impactful. It was a pretty eye-opening experience."
Added Davis: "You hear the message and you think about the tragedy that happened. For him to put all of this in paintings is truly amazing. I'm glad we had an opportunity to experience this. We know that seeing these painting doesn't change what happened, but I think it's something that I think the families can look upon and have a sense of relief in knowing that they haven't lost their family members in vein."
Click here to view the video the players watched to learn more about Twiggs' paintings.
View photos of the team captains as they learn more about symbolic artwork created after the murders at Mother Emanuel Church in Charleston.