Throughout history, we have used the Arts to record, celebrate and study the past. Examples of this can be found in the ancient marks of cavemen, in Native American totem poles and throughout the stained glass of church windows that are more than 100 years old.
This February, organizations throughout Rowan County are carrying on this ancient tradition and sharing Black History through the Arts. Coming up on Wednesday, February 19 and Thursday, February 20, the Rowan County Public Library will host Bright Star Touring Theater as they perform a special production of “Let It Shine: The American Civil Rights Movement 1955-1968.” This “powerful and accessible family production” is just in time for Black History Month. Each performance will kick off with a tribute dance by Triple Threat Dance Company. On Saturday, February 22, the religious organization Mission House will host Fire Nights: The Black History Month Edition. This family-friendly open mic event includes poetry, spoken word, rap, singing, comedy, storytelling, reflection and more.
Pedaling Towards Progress
For the second year in a row, The Pedal Factory, a non-profit community bicycle center, will host “Pedaling Towards Progress” beginning at 2 p.m. on Sunday, February 23. This family-friendly bike tour will take citizens on a four to five-mile journey throughout Downtown Salisbury. Stops along the tour will feature present-day visionaries from our area. One new stop this year will be Vibes, The Premier Creative Arts Incubator that has opened at 1024 South Fulton Street in the SoFul Community.
Owner, Sabrina Harris has created a special video installation entitled “Take the Boat.” According to Harris, “this video installation celebrates prominent Artists of Color from throughout history.” This installation will be on view and open to the public beginning February 11. In addition to the video installation, visitors will have the opportunity to view Vibes’ current exhibition “Good Vibes Only” which includes several Artists of Color, including photographer, Yeddi Lino, painters, Donnie Butler and Philip Osbourne, and visual artist, David Gaines. The exhibit also features four pairs of painted sneakers by local sneaker artist, Kari Johnson, and some pieces by area youth including Bryson Lino.
Pedal Factory’s Owner, Mary Rosser explained “the tour is just to expose the public to the work that people are doing now to create equity and opportunity, and those who are choosing unique paths, and what led them to do so.” Other stops on the tour feature some well-known local leaders including Al Heggins, Patricia Ricks and Tarsha Ellis. Rosser described all three as “working for change through community service, leadership roles, or elected positions.” Local Farmer/Homesteader, Chantel Johnson, Artist and Yogi, Dominique Davis and Singer/Designer, Kenya Templeton are also on this well-rounded and thoughtful line-up. The tour wraps up at The Pedal Factory with refreshments and a mini concert by Kenya Templeton.
Celebrating What Is and What Was
Friday, February 28, all are invited to a closing reception of Artist and Poet, Shane Manier’s exhibition, “Black Kings,” a collection of works honoring the supportive energy and role black men have in our community. Manier created this collection during her residency at Center for Faith and the Arts. The inspiration comes from Manier’s awareness of the media’s portrayal of black men.
In her artist statement she explains, “One of the most horrific portrayals of this is in one of American cinema’s earliest films “Birth of a Nation.” In the film, black men are depicted as threats to white women, showcasing outlandish scenarios of rape and violence. The long-lasting effects of the media’s portrayal can be seen today in the clutching of purses by a white woman as a black man walks by, the locking of car doors and false accusations of threats ending up in unjust murders by police. This project seeks to combat the stereotypes many white women often have of black men through visual storytelling showcasing the protective, nurturing and supportive nature of black men who have been a major part of my life.” The Closing Reception will be held inside the gallery at Center for Faith and the Arts beginning at 7 p.m.
And while many of these opportunities embrace Black Culture in a very current sense, let’s not forget the many contributions that African-Americans have made to Rowan County and the Salisbury community. For a look back in time, stop by the Rowan County Visitor’s Center at 204 East Innes Street and grab a map of the African American Heritage Trail. Stops along this trail detail the lives and contributions of generations of African Americans to Rowan County’s arts, culture, spiritual and agriculture growth. This February, let’s celebrate Rowan’s great diversity by embracing these opportunities and more!