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Panel Discussion, A Community Conversation: How far have we really come? | SEPT 30

Greensboro College

5:30 – 7:30 PM

Events broadcast around the country have caused us all to question, “where are we now in the struggle for equal rights?” Discussion will focus on what we see unfolding on the streets of America today and how it connects to our collective past.  Join us for a facilitated conversation guided through multi-media presentations and thought provoking questions.  Featuring performances by Larry Draughn Music. Free and open to the public.

Why Art + Dialogue

A Blog Post by Laura Way

This year has been a crazy one for me. There is the all the great stuff going on that we do each day at Greenhill and then I added something onto our plate that was not in my or anyone else’s work plan… Art + Dialogue: Responding to Racial Tension in America. Many people have asked me why we took on this project. My answer is, because it is important—but, of course, there is more to it than that.

Last November, I was at the CEOs for Cities conference in Nashville, and our mayor, Nancy Vaughn, was on a panel of mayors. I think she was the fifth speaker of seven, and every mayor who stood up before her essentially did a commercial for their city. Nancy could have followed suit, but she did something brave: She stood up and said, “Greensboro has a problem, and it is poverty.” The room was electrified—she spoke a hard truth. She went on to discuss what we are doing about it as a city, and what a great city Greensboro is, but that it can be better. So true, and it was brave. I left Nashville thinking I needed to be braver, and take the social capital I had been building since I got to Greenhill in 2009 and do something powerful—something our community must deal with head-on for us to move forward to be a better city for all of its citizens.

While I was thinking about this, I was also watching what was going on in Kansas, New York City, Ohio, and I knew the topic we needed to address was race. But how? For me the answer was simple: artists. Artists are amazing, insightful, creative people, and through the ages they have put the world around them into context, questioned authority, brought voice to injustice, inspired us, highlighted despair and disgrace, searched for answers and asked others to so with them. Think about political posters, the Anti-Apartheid, Civil Rights, and Free Tibet movements. Heck, the WPA of the 1930s was not just to give artists work but to inspire a nation. Jazz—what is jazz but quintessential American expression rooted in the black experience? Folk music asks deep questions about poverty and injustice, peace and equality, Rap can express raw, unedited truths about the disparities in our society. There are so many ways in which artists have been a catalyst for change. Art—be it music, dance, literary or visual—has the power to open your heart and change your world view. I believe this in every fiber of my being, so I knew if I wanted to affect change, it had to involve artists.  Now, the question became how to actualize this big idea.

I started with just talking to people: Lynn Bustle, who was our director of programs at the time; Mac Sims, a friend and wise sage; my board; and many others. I knew early that whatever the project was to become, it needed to be a collaboration, but who would be the partners? The answer was obvious: I had four collaborators right in the building with me. The visual arts organizations in the Greensboro Cultural Center were natural partners. So I asked them and they all agreed that yes, this is an important project and, yes, we’re onboard. We had the Art. Then Mac convinced me we needed Dialogue. I knew this was important, but who could help us with this? NCCJ and Ivan Canada immediately jumped in and said yes. NCCJ was a natural fit, and with their experience in our community, we could make something wonderful happen. We now had Dialogue. Then I had coffee with board member Taneka Bennett, and she said, “What about music, dance, spoken word being part of the conversation?”

Now this was getting out of hand… it kept getting bigger, and I resisted. But luckily, by this time the African American Atelier, CVA, Guilford Native American Art Gallery, NCCJ and Greenhill had formed a planning group, and the team thought, yes, we need a multidisciplinary element to the project.  Now we had our Art + Dialogue with its three component parts: Art, Dialogue and Open Sessions. It was a reality. Our next challenge was where to do it. All of the partner organizations were already programmed for the fall, and we really wanted a neutral site—a place where all community members would experience minimal barriers to entry, and where everyone would feel welcome and be able to easily get there by car, bike, bus or foot. Greensboro College seemed like an ideal fit and its President, Dr. Larry Czarda, was all over it: Yes, do the project, and do it here!

Six long months have now gone by. We secured early funding through the SJ Edwards Foundation, then CFGG, The Bryan Foundation/ArtsGreensboro, and Tannenbaum-Sternberger Foundation followed with grants. We did a statewide call for visual artists to submit work that would be reviewed by an august panel of art professionals, and they selected 18 artists who come from all corners of North Carolina and then California. Ivan’s team is putting together the panel discussions, and Michelle Carello, our project manager, has assembled multidisciplinary artists to take part. Shari Clemons at the African American Atelier is creating great educational programming with help from Ruth Revels at Guilford Native American Art Gallery, and Dara Nix-Stevenson, board member at CVA, has been a backbone to the entire project, helping with social media, giving us astute advice, and assisting on every aspect of A + D, being a critical part of helping make it a reality. It takes a village.

There have been ups and downs with A + D. Every collaboration involves stress, and we are no exception. I say this because putting together a project about racial tension requires every person at the table be really open to each other, to listen, not judge, and recognize and leave stereotypes at the door. I am not perfect, but neither is anyone else, and we have all learned together during this process. It is life affirming and humbling at the same time. With that said, I cannot wait until September 24th to arrive. We have had a journey, and now we are inviting everyone else to come and complete the project, because it will ONLY work if people come, open their hearts, listen carefully, and engage visually, audibly, instinctively, and emotionally.

Nancy Vaughn, thank you for being brave in Nashville, because I am here today because I too took a leap of faith, others agreed to join me, and I know it is worth it.

Laura Way

Executive Director, Greenhill

Laura.way@greenhillnc.org

336.333.7460 | 336.937.1598 cell

Press Release: ART + DIALOGUE, A MULTI-ORIGANIZATION COLLABORATION ANNOUNCES SPECIAL PROGRAMS

Click here for PDF of Press Release

(Greensboro, NC) Art + Dialogue: Responding to Racial Tension in America (A + D), September 24 through October 11, 2015, is a collaborative project bringing the community together in dialogue around racial tension. A + D uses art as an equalizing, thought-provoking platform, and has four interconnected parts: a juried art exhibition, a series of town hall style panel discussions, open dialogue sessions and educational programming.

The juried art exhibition opens at Greensboro College on Thursday, September 24 at 5:30 PM. Artists were selected based on artistic quality and relevance to A + D themes: intersection of race with gender, age, class, sexual orientation, immigration status, ability status and other identities; visibility of multi-racial individuals and families in the U.S.; how art can express pain, grief, rage—and still inspire healing; historic roots of race and racism and resulting realities today and visions for the future; different forms of racism; cultural appropriation versus cross-cultural exploration/inspiration, and how immigrants and immigration status are defined. Selected visual artist include:

• Inga Kimberly Brown, Greensboro NC
• Renee Cloud, Charlotte NC
• Susan Fecho, Tarboro NC
• Kerith + Krystal Hart, Greensboro NC
• Titus Heagins, Durham NC
• Kathleen Jardine, Pittsboro NC
• Alexis Joyner, Elizabeth City NC
• Willie Little, Oakland CA
• Frank Myers, Raleigh NC
• Mariana Pardy, Jamestown NC
• IlaSahai Prouty, Bakersville NC
• Tyler Starr, Davidson NC
• Kulsum Tasnif, Raleigh NC
• Devon Tucker, Raleigh NC
• Chris Watts, High Point NC
• Monica Weber, Winston-Salem, NC
• Andrew Wells, Sanford NC
• Pamela Winegard, Matthews, NC
• Antoine Williams, Chapel Hill NC
• Gesche Würfel, Chapel Hill NC

Artist Kulsum Tasnif explains her work selected for the exhibition, “In New Paint, Old Scars, I translated a quote by Martin Luther King into Urdu, the Pakistani language, ‘we may have all come in different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.’ The themes that I’m dealing with and the message that my work seeks to convey is ‘despite discrimination, racism, sexism, and all the devastations that hate brings, the resilience to overcome will allow us to really understand each other.’ …My art has given me a voice that I just didn’t have as a child…I have this voice and I can use it.”

Intertwined with the juried art exhibition are a series of town hall style panel discussions coordinated around a topic or theme responding to racial tension in America. These discussions are guided by a facilitator and a group of community leaders who can speak to multiple perspectives on each topic. Panel discussions may also include thought-provoking performances to open minds and offer moments of healing. Selected multidisciplinary artists include:

• Ann Deagon, writer, poet, Greensboro NC
• Larry Draughn, Jr., music, Greensboro NC
• The Poetry Project, spoken word, poetry, Greensboro NC
• Shelley Segal + La Shon Hill, theater, Greensboro NC
• Ashley Williams + April Marten, performance art, Charlotte NC
• Camerin Watson, dance, Charlotte, NC
• Alexandra Warren, JOYEMOVEMENT, dance, Greensboro NC

Charlotte-based performance artists Ashley Williams + April Marten explain, “We are creating this piece and working together as a visual reminder of difference. We are two bodies and two perspectives who have merged into one art piece. We aim to investigate and test the limits of our own subjectivity and we aim to speak to the world about the multi-dimensions of racism. Some of our questions include: What can we charge the audience with? What can we tell people to expect out of themselves? Our hope is that the work speaks to the importance of process and the labor of questioning. We believe that all humans living on this earth, in this country, in this state, in our collective communities, contribute to creating meaningful dialogue and lifting the oppressed.”

Independent of panel discussions are Open Dialogue Sessions which are performance and experience driven open dialogues that include an afternoon of athletics and poetry with Clement Mallory of Poetry Kids Basketball, an interactive workshop using mixed media with artist Charlena Wynn, and a guided meditation with Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs.

Liz Seymour, former Executive Director of the Interactive Resource Center and Art + Dialogue Panel Design Committee member comments, “We will never be able to heal the divides of race, class and ethnicity in Greensboro–or anywhere in the United States–until we can truly see and hear each other. Artists are the community’s eyes and ears and A+D gives us a wonderful opportunity to look and listen and learn.”

Educational programming will provide engaging experiences for both children and adults. On October 10, an Education Day led by the African American Atelier at the Greensboro Cultural Center will begin with a Teacher Workshop at 10 am, talking about and dealing with racial tension in the classroom. At 1:00 pm the program is geared towards family oriented activities, and ending with Films and Open Mic Night at 5:00 pm. ArtQuest at Greenhill will be open free of charge from 1:00 – 5:00pm during Education Day. The goal for A + D educational programming is to expose racial tension in the Triad; utilizing social art practices as a catalyst for learning and growing in our community. Through the use of community organizations, gallery hosts, activity tables, artists and local volunteers, participants will have the opportunity to gain exposure and knowledge of various cultures and ethnicities. The Atelier hopes this project will plant seeds of love and respect for all races; teaching the community that mere tolerance is not enough.

A + D Partner Organization Planning Team members include Dara Nix-Stevenson, Center for Visual Artists, Ivan Canada, NCCJ, LeShari Clemons, African American Atelier, Laura Way, Greenhill, Ruth Revels, Guilford Native American Art Gallery. A + D would not be possible without the support from ArtsGreensboro, Joseph M. Bryan Foundation, Tannenbaum-Sternberger Foundation, SJ Edwards Foundation and Greensboro College. Go to http://www.artanddialoguegso.wordpress.com for the full schedule. For questions or ways to volunteer email Michelle Carello, A+D Project Manager at artanddialoguegso@gmail.com.

X X X

Education Day | OCT 10

Greensboro Cultural Center

Education Day, coordinated by the African American Atelier, is a day focused on cultivating knowledge and respect in our community. Education Day provides the opportunity to engage in personalized visual art activities: invoking questions, eliminating stereotypes and reflecting on personal perspectives; utilizing social art practices as catalysts for learning.

Happening All Day

Complete Thoughts | 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
You will be provided a phrase on a piece of fabric that will be sewn together as a quilt by Alexis Green and will be hung in the cultural center after the event.
 
Charlotte’s Web Activity for Adults | 10:00 AM – 7:00 PM
African American Atelier, Greensboro Cultural Center, Second Floor
6 foot tall structures built by artist James Barnhill built the structure for the “Charlottes web activity” that is geared towards adults. This community based installation will serve as an opportunity for participants to create a web based on the countries they identify with. The final installation will be on display in the Atrium until the end October.

Teacher Workshop | 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM 
Orientation Room, Greensboro Cultural Center, Second Floor
Join the educators of the African American Atelier for an interactive workshop on addressing racial tension in the classroom. Each teacher will receive a packet containing a variety of activities that can be used in the classroom. During the morning, participants will learn about five of these activities and be provided materials.  Activities will focus on heritage, identifying our differences and similarities, and how to deal with those differences. It’s a day to have fun and develop your own experiences – It’s extremely personalized.

Family Programming | 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM 
Through workshops with local multicultural community organizations, and activity tables guided by artists and local volunteers, participants will have the opportunity to gain exposure and knowledge of various cultures and ethnicities as well as celebrate their own.

Too Heavy a Yolk Workshop for Adults | 1:00pm – 2:30pm
Orientation Room, Greensboro Cultural Center, Second Floor
The Workshop will begin with a 15 minute talk and 5 minute Q&A about Charlena Wynn’s work and research.  She will explore the concept of trauma, pain and healing through art, and how race gender and body intersect with place, time and physical space.  Participants will create their own mixed media narratives and employee some of the themes discussed.

Body Language Workshop for Adults | 1:30pm – 4:00pm
Rehearsal Room, Greensboro Cultural Center, First Floor
Artist Emily Dolce will direct a workshop where participants will create gesture drawings of models.  The models will display racial conflicts the participants suggest, and can keep their drawings after they are done.

Angry Eye Workshop for Adults | 3:00PM – 5:00PM
Orientation Room, Greensboro Cultural Center, Second Floor
Showing of “The Blue Eye Green Eyed” Video followed by a facilitated discussion.

Poetry Basketball with Clement Malroy for Children + Families | 1:00PM – 5:00PM
Atrium, Greensboro Cultural Center
Join us for a shooting word challenge, poetry basketball race, and make it take it. Candy prizes.

Children and Family Activities in ArtQuest | 1pm – 4:30 pm
ArtQuest at Greenhill, Greensboro Cultural Center, Second Floor
Each activity is one hour long, and will be offered three times: 
1:00PM – 2:00PM | 2:15PM – 3:15PM | 3:30PM – 4:30PM 

  • Color Me _____
    Anthony Patterson, Greensboro portrait artist, and student at UNC-G uses all the colors that he sees.  Participants willl step up to a light and outline their silhouette and select the color they think best represents themselves. Anthony will lead participants in how he chooses his palette – instead of using on basic color, using undertones and overtones to get a more accurate color.
  • Hidden transition project.
    Many masks we wear.  Create masks with Randy Whitney.
  • Pieces of me
    Deborah Julian will address how the media affects children and how they see themselves through a mixed-media activity.

Panel Discussion, How Race & Racism Affects Your Neighbors | SEPT 26

3:00PM – 5:00PM

Greensboro is a diverse and increasingly dynamic city simultaneously united and divided by geography and manmade infrastructure.  Discussion will break down how cities fund and implement infrastructure, how this connects to race and the composition of our city, and hear from local residents on life in the zip code next door.

With special presentation by Bayard Love, COO and Director of Development of the International Civil Rights Museum. Featuring performance by Alexandra Warren and JOYEMOVEMENT Dance. Free and open to the public.

A + D ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: WILLIE LITTLE

Willie LittleAn Interview with artist Wilie Little

by Art + Dialogue intern Maddie Fritz

M: How has your style developed through the years and how did you, as an artist, arrive at the works that are featured in the show?

W: My works have evolved rather organically. I have always been a process driven artist where silent objects spoke to me, but my work and style evolved as I began creating works that celebrated who I am and where I come from and try to make sense out of my life. And that first exhibit, which ironically has been my most successful exhibit, was Juke Joint in 1995, that exhibit was about my father’s house, and traveling around the country. After that exhibit, I created other works that were confirming, but, what happened, my work began to evolve and I began to look at the world and how I would explore its social and cultural issues and that started in 1999. So I had a residency at the McCall Center and at that time I had been selected to have a residency at Kwa Zulu Natal, South Africa, and that residency, the theme of the residency, was called baggage. And what happened in 1999 was the highly publicized case called the Diallo case it was a fifteen-year-old African immigrant who was shot by four NYC policemen and his name is Diallo. So I had the issue of gun violence on the brain as I went to South Africa, and at the time everyone had created work with that scene. I made limited edition prints that were about American baggage: America’s sense of self-righteousness, America’s sense of rights of entitlement, and how Americans use the Bible as a crutch to justify bigotry and hatred, as opposed to the 20th-century, so I used shopping bags as a metaphor for the American baggage, so that was kind of that catalyst that took me to create subtle works that had a powerful message so that they [viewers] couldn’t put it out of their heads and that got me into making social and political works.

M: Many artists draw on events that happened to them or during their lifetime. Do you use history as inspiration?

W: Yes, and that’s what art is about because artists in history have always responded to things that happened historically and that’s when you learn, that’s how so many people learn about history, through self-expression of artists.

M: How did you become an artist and are there specific life events that have impacted your work and/or contributed to your evolution as an artist?

W: Yes, there were three specific life events, one was in 1968, second was 1974, and the third one was 2008. I’ll start with 1968. I was born in rural NC, known as the sticks, but we called it Little Washington. In 1968, NC was thrust into desegregation. And my class, the class of 1968, was the test or guinea pig group used for desegregation. Now, I was one of the beneficiaries, I think I benefited from desegregation and that I kind of accelerated in that environment, however I was still totally affected by the harsh treatment; it was horrific.

The second thing that happened was in 1974, I had really close brushes with Civil Rights Protests, and Joan Little, I don’t know if you know about this case, Joan Little was my father’s cousin and she was tried with killing a jailer in Washington; she had stabbed him in self-defense because he had assaulted her sexually and this ignited a national civil rights protest. Then, I was too young to go to the protests in Washington, but what happened was, it was on national TV, and the reverend Ralph Abernathy of the SCLC [Southern Christian Leadership Conference] came to lead the protests and I was about eight and my sister was 16 and she said, “Martin Luther King marched on Washington and we’re going to march on Little Washington!” and I had wanted to go so bad, but I’ve never forgotten the impact of the racial divide and what was going on around me. All this activity was right there on TV, Walter Cronkite was talking about this thing and everyone was marching.

And then, in 2008, you know, the 44th president of the United States was elected and he was black, I was like “Wow, this is so great and this is going to change the racial divide.” But, I was wrong. I was upset by the backlash, the rise of the Tea Party, the voter suppression, even in NC, and how the Congress and the Senate were behaving. I saw the rallies and the signs of hatred that were associated with Jesus and being touted by the tea baggers; signs saying things like, “We want to take our country, America, back!” and I was like “From whom?” and at what cost, I asked. I wanted to figure out what can I say, and it took me a while to figure out how to create something to express my disdain and my passions, so I actually wrote and received a grant from the Pollock Krasner Foundation in 2010 and that was when I started creating the work called ‘In the Hood.’ That was a labor of love. The first thing I created was the tea bagger gown composed of over a thousand tea bags that I had sewn together. I soon had health setbacks in 2013, I had kind of a life threatening illness and I couldn’t finish the works at that time.

Then in 2014, a new gallery wanted to feature my art and I had a successful continuation of funds to finish the exhibit. Part of this exhibit is this show, and it’s layered with satire and metaphor and the question I’m asking is “which hood?” What I love about what I tried to create is that I’m merging the Tea Party with popular hip hop and it’s this farcical parody and juxtaposition of this unlikely pair. The union of the KKK and the culture which they hate so much. It became a sort of metaphorical nightmare, pairing hip hop bling with the Tea Party and KKK iconography, I found that it just grabbed viewers’ attention.

Those were really the three pivotal events that got me to where I am now, because, like I said, I have to have art to deal with and express myself regarding the social dilemmas in America today.

M: The theme being racial tension in America, and the Art + Dialogue goal of uniting the arts and community in an exchange of ideas, do you have anything to say about connecting with the other featured artists?

W: I’m actually really happy to be presented in the same show with these other artists because I know much of the other artists are going to be much younger than me. And I’m really happy to see the youth going back to voice their opinions through social media and protesting and having something to say. What I would like to say, is really, do not forget the history of the struggle of this country, whether you’re black or white, or you’re gay or straight, or, you know, wherever you come from. But, also, find your unique voice, your unique gift, and share that with an audience. And that will do well with anybody that is a creative person. Once I started doing socio-political work, I haven’t stopped. And that’s always been a struggle, because I’ve always been trying to push the envelope. So when I see something that makes people feel uncomfortable, but expresses an idea in the most clever way, that’s what I really like. You know, how does it seduce the artist in either the most subtle way or the most over-the-top way. Which I notice a lot of younger artists are doing, and that’s what I really wanted to do with this work, you know, it’s so farcical, how hip hop is blended with the clan, so I hope that will garner some viewers’ attention.

Willie Little has work in collections around the globe and some of his pieces will be featured in the Art + Dialogue show in the Cowan Humanities Building at Greensboro College.

For more information on Willie Little and his work, please visit www.willielittle.com

A + D ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: ANTOINE WILLIAMS

Antoine WilliamsAn Interview with artist Antoine Williams

by Art + Dialogue intern Maddie Fritz

M: How has your style developed through the years and how did you, as an artist, arrive at the works that are featured in the show?

A: So, I started out being interested in science fiction, like watching graphic manga, beginning to get into hip hop and street art culture, and from there, I got into politics. Really just the combination of all three together: hip hop, science fiction, and politics. I began to incorporate these into my work and sought to satisfy all three. I drew figures from TV and from graffiti, and draw inspiration from industrial surfaces and found objects which have a socioeconomic or racial attachment to them. This show and its subject matter is really an extension of the work I already do. I kind of already made work about race and class, as an artist, you get to be around all types of people, so I’m really interested in that. This show is my practice.

M: How did you become an artist and are there specific life events that have impacted your work and/or contributed to your evolution as an artist?

A: I think I’ve always been a creative person, over time you come to realize that you’re an artist, and once you realize it you can do something with it. Honestly, I’ve always made work, but I think my work starts to get more political after the 2000 election, like when Bush didn’t win but he got elected, I thought something was weird about that, and then 9/11, where I would see things on television, and I would see an US tank blow up an Iraqi hospital, but then the news would talk about it as if it wasn’t a bad thing. And then you’d hear  politicians blatantly lie in the news. You know, what I would see with my eyes and what was being reported, I felt that something was wrong. I started to get more interested in why these things were happening like this. And as a grew up, there were things that I noticed, but when you’re young, you know, you hear things like, “black people aren’t that smart” or “black people aren’t as good at math” and then it would be explained away as “they have smaller brains” and I was thinking, you know, that can’t be true, but I didn’t know why. Why was it that a lot of people I knew were locked up? And it’s not because they were bad people, but they still ended up in jail. My art is me trying to figure that stuff out. Maybe a specific moment would be 9/11, but all my life I had these questions and they were all about race. But yeah, I’ve always had those questions and through my art I’ve tried to answer them or address them.

We’ve been made to believe that there’s one history. Take the Civil War, you’ve got an entirely different history when it’s told through the eyes of female slaves. In my work, I like to research these subjects and find out these things and then try to identify with them in a way. Like, why does America lock up so many more people? And let’s talk about that from the perspective of someone who can be one of those people. And this is perspective that you don’t see a lot. Or often not at all in mainstream society, or even in art.

M: Is there anything you want to tell young people who are growing up with and facing this level of racial tension in their country? Also, is it that racial violence is broadcast more often or because the violence is more prevalent?

A: It’s not more prevalent, white cops have been killing black people since there were black people in America. I think this goes into perspective. You talk to a lot of black people and they’ll tell you that this is nothing new. Black people have been saying the exact same thing, a lot of these cops are crooked and a lot of these cops beat people up. Mainstream society does not listen and it’s not until they actually, it’s sad, but you have to get it on camera for people to see. Because of technology, I think that’s what’s changed, now we’ve got the technology for people to see it. And I’m interested in, now that people are seeing it, what’s next? What are we going to do to change our lives, what part of this is going to be used as a political tool, is this going to lead to progress? I think that oftentimes with race, the conversation in mainstream society is not often with young people, but you go to tumblr or twitter and you’re able to have more nuanced conversations. And that’s why I think a lot of young people can benefit. 

So, with young people, I mean, need to put your voice out there and I wouldn’t be afraid to say what we feel. But, there’s a lot of venues, and often times I don’t think people look at art as a venue to put out things they want to say. I think oftentimes it’s easy to feel isolated and as if you are all alone in the world. There’s other people out there. But yeah, I think they just have to keep on. And also, they need to have, like, I mean I’m thirty-five so, I guess that sixteen-year-old will have to deal with that pain and maybe I won’t. But, I think, you know, I was talking about nuance, but the bigger issue really is structural changes, like racism. Past structural changes are why a lot of these young black people are being killed by cops. I feel even, more of a shift towards that, rather than like intra/interpersonal, because that’s what’s going to matter. You bring in a disproportionate number of black and latino out of poverty, and give them more education, more opportunity, and all of these things matter, but it’s a hard conversation. For young people of color, it’s just important to have these kinds of conversations. For young black people, it’s like, don’t be afraid to have these conversations. I think we’re in a new realm because we have this technology that we didn’t have before. Oftentimes I think of how things would have been different, like the Civil Rights Movement. The struggle is not going to look like what it did in 1954, the problem is there a lot of people who are still stuck there. And it’s like, no, it’s going to look different and we may have the same problems. A lot of young people don’t learn anything and that’s one of the frustrations that comes in. Media still comes into play. Like, when Obama said the n-word, people were just shocked that he said the n-word, rather than what he was talking about. And that’s a very old way of thinking. You know, younger people don’t care as much. But yeah, I’m ranting, I hope somewhere in there there’s an answer.

M:  How does your work ignite these conversations that are so necessary?

A: Well, yeah, and here’s what I try to do with my work: so I have these creatures and I want them to suggest a certain ethnicity and a certain class, right? But I also want to suggest a certain mood. So I may want something to look somewhat threatening or suggest something’s in peril. [Regarding his work ‘North Charleston’] I hope that there’s a certain tension in that piece. That piece is about interactions that a lot of black people have with cops and that tension that happens there. So if you’re not black or you just have a great relationship with cops, I can tell you all day how horrible that is, but some people just can’t relate because, you know, they’ve never been there. But, I think, tension, people understand fear. People understand joy and happiness. I’m trying to, through my personal experiences or experiences that I can relate to, I’m trying to translate through universal emotions of fear, pain. I think people can understand that. You may not know what it’s like to be pulled over by a cop, but everyone still understands fear. And that’s what I’m trying to get across. I’m not necessarily trying to answer the question, but am trying to put things out there. So, I want people to have a more gut response to my work and then let’s talk about that. It’s hard to convince people that ‘cops treat me differently’ but it’s much easier to communicate fear. If this induces fear, then that’s what I’m feeling, that’s what it’s like.


Antoine Williams has original work featured in the Art + Dialogue show in the Cowan Humanities Building at Greensboro College.

For more information on Antoine Williams and his work, please visit www.rawgoods.org.


Art + Dialogue:  Responding to Racial Tension in America

Sept. 24 – Oct. 11  @  Greensboro College

Art + Dialogue (A + D) is a collaborative project bringing community together using visual art as the catalyst for dialogues around racial tension in America. A + D aspires to make the issue of race and racial tensions more tangible to its audiences and participants and promote greater understanding of different perspectives and experiences.

For a full calendar of events, click HERE.