Off-Campus art exhibit celebrates Black History Month

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(Pictured: Resistance is Futile by Samuel Dunson.  Photo courtesy of Barbara Harmon.)

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor

Volunteer State Community College hosted events dedicated to Black History Month. Those events commemorated historical events and observed occurrence in today’s society.

The Hendersonville Arts Council at Monthaven Mansion, which will annually host “Art Off-Campus,” an exhibit for Vol State students’ art, also featured a special exhibit during this time.

“Men of Winter: a fine art exhibition in celebration of Black History Month,” was curated by Carlton Wilkinson, proprietor of Wilkinson Arts and former photography teacher at Vol State.

“This exhibition represents a collective of Tennessee-based, male artists who are addressing their creativity in consideration of these contemporary times.

“They will be showcasing their perspectives of circumstances, in terms of one’s own existence,” according to the “Men of Winter” statement.

Some of the artists included in this exhibition were James Threalkill, Leroy Hodges and Samuel Dunson.

“We are in the still winter as there is an environment of social and economic chilliness in our world.

“However, there remains the projection of hope, continuity and productivity as we prepare for the spring season for renewal,” according to the statement.

Included in the exhibit was “I am a Man,” by Leroy Hodges.

“This picture was based on the sanitation workers in Memphis protesting for higher wages and the removal of glass ceilings, in terms of promotion.

“And this march took place right around the time Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated  in 1968,” said Wilkinson.

“Resistance is Futile,” by Samuel Dunson, relates to Michael Brown.

“This piece is an eye-opener. He’s relating to black males shot by police.

“It could happen anywhere—it could be in Ferguson, which by appearance isn’t ghetto, but poor or rich it doesn’t matter,” said Wilkinson.

The blood the man in the picture bleeds is an American flag.

“Dunson, who is also a professor of studio art at Tennessee State University, speaks about the subject of his work—the misrepresentation and mistreatment of African-Americans—with a warmth that might seem to mask his intensity, but which often underscores how ordinary incidents of violence against African-Americans have become.

“For him, it culminated with reports of the shooting of Walter Scott, a 50-year-old South Carolina man who was shot in the back eight times as he fled from a police officer after a traffic stop,” according to nashvillescene.com.

James Threalkill’s painting, “Wrapped in Glory,” is of a young African-American man wrapped in an American flag and bleeding in the area covering his heart.

“It’s the mood—the black and white, and the only thing he wanted in color was the blood—the symbolism of blood.

“I think you could probably relate that to a gunshot wound,” said Wilkinson.

“Destined for Greatness,” another piece by James Threalkill, is of an African-American child with a graduation cap on and ambitions surrounding him: teacher, scientist, judge, president, engineer, artist, doctor, CEO, inventor, mayor, athlete.

Wilkinson said Threalkill’s work is usually uplifting like this one, and “Wrapped in Glory” was a different piece for him.

“He was obviously thinking of contemporary issues concerning Black Lives Matter,” said Wilkinson.

“I think there is a lot of misunderstanding that is relating to that, because people see it as anti-police, but it’s about anti-corruption.

“And so, no one’s saying not to have police—I don’t think anyone would want that, but there are elements of the situations where black young, black males are treated differently, in terms of arrest and what have you,” said Wilkinson.

This exhibition ended on March 12, but these pieces and other African-American art can be purchased through Wilkinson Arts.

The next “Art Off-Campus” exhibit for Vol State students’ art will be May 14-June 14, said Dan Titcomb, Executive Director of Hendersonville Arts Council.