Charles Eady

A mixed-media artist born in South Carolina and currently based in Ocala, Florida, graduated from Claflin University with a BA in Art Education.

Charles Eady Bio

Charles Eady, a mixed-media artist born in South Carolina and currently based in Ocala, Florida, graduated from Claflin University with a BA in Art Education. His art has been exhibited both nationally and internationally.

An award-winning contemporary artist and author, Eady’s art work is inspired by and remains focused on the history of free Blacks in the South prior to the Civil War. His painting depicting an early Black jockey titled American Jockey is on permanent display at the Appleton Museum of Art in Ocala, Fl. Eady’s painting, titled Anna and named after a character in his book, Hidden Freedom, won the $50,000 Grand Prize at the 2021 ArtFields in Lake City, South Carolina. In 2022, Eady returned to ArtFields as a judge.

Eady, who teaches art education at Belleview (FL) High School, was one of only five recipients of the 2022 State Teaching Artist Residency (STAR). The STAR program, dating back to 2011, is designed to honor and nourish Florida public school art educators.

Through his artwork, Eady strives to disrupt mainstream images of history, providing an accurate portrayal of the early South with hopes to improve social discord.

In 2023, Eady will be featured in a solo exhibit at the Appleton Museum of Art.


Artist Statement

My art is influenced by the courage and bravery of a population of Blacks who lived free in this country amidst pre-Civil War slavery.

Like most people, I was taught what it meant to be Black in the pre-Civil War South from textbooks and teachers. I learned the South was populated by enslaved Blacks and free Whites only.

A decade ago, I heard about “free Blacks” living in the pre-Civil War South. I’d never heard of them living in the South before and did some research. One of my first finds was that free Blacks were recorded on the first federal census of South Carolina in 1790.

Shocked, I began researching free Blacks and found further startling evidence that contradicted what I’d been taught. There were records of free Blacks challenging the judicial system to uphold their rights, and of free Blacks petitioning courts about being overtaxed. The deeper I looked, the more evidence I found. For instance, there’s evidence that free Blacks preferred to live in the South over the North because they felt the opportunities to own businesses and provide for their families were better in the South.

My core beliefs about the south once centered around all Blacks being enslaved. Now I endeavor to increase people’s awareness of the fact that free Blacks have always lived there, and to give the truth of their existence a voice through my art.


Photo by Vanessa Scott

Charles Eady a contemporary artist and author use art to examine long-held beliefs about the south. His paintings open dialogues into little-known facts about southern history. His emphasis for the past decade has been on the lives of those living in the South before the Civil War. He has a unique artistic language for layering art into history.

Born in South Carolina he currently lives in Ocala, Florida. Eady graduated from Claflin University with a BA in Art Education. Eady won the 2021 ArtFields Grand Prize with a portrait of a girl who wanted to read. His art has been exhibited both nationally and internationally. Eady’s pioneering approach to mixed-media incorporates documents on his paintings.

In 2023, Eady will receive his first solo exhibit at a national museum, the Appleton Museum in Ocala, Florida. A recent painting of his is a part of their permanent collection. The central theme within his work includes scenes from the everyday life of free Blacks. Eady endeavors for his work to teach history and improve social conflict. The incredibly powerful pieces disrupt mainstream imagery and gives voice to a population silenced from history.

Photo by Jenny E. Photography

The historical information presented was eye opening, and the art was brilliant! I’m already looking forward to the NEXT PRESENTATION!

– Veronica Eason

Wonderful presentation. Mr. Eady gave plenty of new information about things I thought I already knew. I went home and started looking for more information. Mr. Eady may be known as an artist, but I feel his historical knowledge matches his artistic notoriety.

- Karen Harri Madigan

A compelling story about a free black family seeking equality in South Carolina before the Civil War.

The documents and information presented in Mr. Eady’s book is a testimony of the rich and diverse heritage of people of color and is a brilliant use of media to tell a powerful story. My hope is that the information and historical accounts noted in Hidden Freedom will be a beacon for individuals to absorb and reflect upon to instill and rebuild the self esteem, pride, and image of individuals, to note that the fabric of our beings represents power, intelligence, and love for people. Mr Eady’s book is the spark that has the potential to ignite a desire and passion that can motivate individuals to seek historical accounts and facts about their family history to develop a more positive identity of who they are and to share with future generations. Unveiling hidden freedoms and intellectual treasures is a pathway to rebuilding and strengthening families and communities.

-PhD Candidate, Sonya Williams

Photo by Jenny E. Photography

A pursuit of truth through the South.

Buy online at Barnes & Noble, and Amazon.

Signed copies available at the Appleton Museum and Brick City Center for The Arts Ocala, Fl.