Rivera, Team Captains visit AME Emanuel Art Gallery in Spartanburg

SPARTANBURG, SC (WCCB Charlotte) — The football field is Ron Rivera’s canvas.

The first brushstrokes to the Panthers 2016 masterpiece will be painted during Thursday’s first preseason game at Baltimore. But on Monday, the pads were set aside for real artwork as the team’s head coach brought his six team captains to The Johnson Collection — an art gallery in the heart of Spartanburg.

The gallery in studio currently hits home with the Panthers. It’s titled “Requiem for Mother Emanuel”and is a series of nine paintings by Leo Twiggs spotlighting the aftermath of last year’s murders in Charleston. The paintings aim to ‘capture humanity amidst horror’.

“They were so incredibly engaged,” Lynne Blackman of The Johnson Gallery said of the Panthers visit to the museum. “They were thoughtful. They were curious. They were very riveted to these.”

The Panthers have been part of the healing process from the beginning. Cam Newton drove down to Charleston to help the families grieve and owner Jerry Richardson donated $100,000 to the cause.

Many of the paintings showcased the confederate flag as well as the letter ‘X’ to represent targets of the nine people brutally murdered.

“That was a thing that really stood out to a lot of us,” linebacker Thomas Davis said. “I think it was a real powerful move by the state to take that flag down.”

Head coach Ron Rivera said it was important for the captains to make the trip and he encouraged the guys to talk about the museum with the rest of his teammates.