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Spring Opening Reception @ SECCA: Fun and Folly

April 2, 2014

Yesterday evening we celebrated the opening of our latest two exhibitions – Jennifer Meanley: Far away, in the meadow and Eric Fertman: A Comic Turn.

Opening reception refreshments at SECCA | Winston-Salem Contemporary Art

Even the weather decided to relax and warm up in time for the beautiful evening festivities.

Artist Jennifer Meanley at SECCA | Winston-Salem Contemporary Art

Opening reception at SECCA | Winston-Salem Contemporary Art

Opening remarks started at 6:45 pm in the Main Gallery. SECCA Director Mark Leach welcomed the great crowd of supporters and enthusiasts, and our Curator of Contemporary Art Cora Fisher introduced the artists. We were honored to have both artists at the event.

Opening reception remarks at SECCA | Winston-Salem Contemporary Art

April Fool’s was a fitting evening to have the opening reception as the event was full of fun and folly.

Opening reception 2 exhibitions at SECCA | Winston-Salem Contemporary Art

Opening reception at SECCA | Winston-Salem Contemporary Art

Opening reception at SECCA | Winston-Salem Contemporary Art

Opening reception at SECCA | Winston-Salem Contemporary Art

Opening reception at SECCA | Winston-Salem Contemporary Art

Thank you to everyone who attended the opening. We hope to see you at another event soon! If you missed this event, stay tuned on Facebook or Twitter for the latest information about upcoming openings or subscribe to our e-newsletter via our homepage.

Post by: Adrienne Fletcher, Marketing + PR Manager

2014 TIP at R.J. Reynolds High School With Graphic Artist, Nadia Hassan

March 26, 2014
SECCA Feb 2014 TIP Art Project | Winston-Salem museum

Pattern by designer Nadia Hassan using shapes created by students.

The Intersections Project (TIP) is a collaborative initiative launched by SECCA, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, and the Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County that brings contemporary art into schools through artist residencies. Artists from all over the world work with students to make art that is relevant to their learning and their lives, while also providing resources that can be used by teachers in participating TIP schools, throughout the state and across the globe.

SECCA Feb 2014 TIP Art Project | Winston-Salem museum

SECCA TIP Tessellations Lesson Plan

In the most recent TIP residency, students from R.J. Reynolds High School met with graphic artist, Nadia Hassan, to design and produce patterns for wallpaper. This residency was part of the Graphic Design – Now in Production exhibition, which includes wallpaper, and also recognizes the historical wallpaper in the Hanes House at SECCA. Hassan worked with students in geometry, e-media arts and introductory and advanced art classes. Each class made patterns in different media that connected with class content and skill level including tessellations, printmaking, digital and pencil-created repeated designs.

SECCA Feb 2014 TIP Art Project | Winston-Salem museum

Ms. Hassan and students working on the project.

For the final project, students in each class designed shapes in foam and placed them on a roller made of PVC pipe. A pattern was printed with acrylic in one color on canvas using the roller as the printing device. Hassan digitized each shape, created a large pattern with the combined shapes from all the classes. This pattern was printed as wallpaper in the school colors – black and gold by Spoonflower, Inc., which donated rolls to Reynolds and SECCA. Museum visitors can see the TIP wallpaper on display near the auditorium. The wallpaper is available for purchase from Spoonflower and 10% of the proceeds from the TIP wallpaper go to The Intersections Project. The pattern is also available as a decal, fabric and wrapping paper in both the black and yellow and in multicolor.

SECCA Feb 2014 TIP Art Project | Winston-Salem museum

Various classes.

Teachers interested in some of the lesson plans from this project can check them out on the TIP website. For a designer’s perspective on the project, visit Hassan’s blog where a second color option of the pattern can be found.

SECCA Feb 2014 TIP Art Project | Winston-Salem museum

A group of TIP students admiring the finished project.


Post by: Deborah Randolph, Curator of Education

Crossroads #009 @ SECCA: Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn Recap

March 13, 2014
Crossroads #009 performers Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn at SECCA Winston-Salem

Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn performing at SECCA

This past weekend, SECCA held its 9th concert in the SECCA Crossroads series, hosting banjo players extraordinaire, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn. The musical duo performed for two sold out shows at the museum, leaving most of us in awe and wanting more.

As my first Crossroads experience, the whole day could not have been more exciting. We started off with a lively music-themed Community Day, where the weather decided to be nice enough for us to be outside. There was an instrument petting zoo so that children could see, feel and hear different string instruments. We had another area with music- and banjo-themed books that parents could read to their children on the rug. Then of course, we had an very fun banjo-making craft project where everyone got to make a banjo and decorate. Even Béla Fleck came down for the fun! (There are more photos from Community Day on our Facebook page.)

Music Community Day at SECCA Winston-Salem

As the sun began to set, the auditorium became filled with concert-goers. I had never heard Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn live in concert, and I have to say, if you haven’t had the chance to catch them live, find a way! The two of them are just amazing and not only incredibly talented but also incredibly genuine. One of my favorite parts of the evening was in the first concert–Béla and Abigail’s son was in the audience and at one put he let out a squeal after hearing his dad. Béla played a few notes out to his son and we waited a second, and then out came another big squeal from his son. This happened a couple of times and it produced this very intimate moment between both parents (with beaming eyes) and their child, and it was such an indescribably human moment to be a part of. I think the whole audience could feel the connection across the auditorium between parents and child. It was just so special.

Crossroads #009 performers Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn at SECCA Winston-Salem

Right, and again, did I mention the talent of these two! There were goosebumps all around, I’m sure, during several songs. Plus Abigail did some songs in Mandarin, which I found particularly beautiful.

I think one of the most rewarding parts of the evening as well, at least for me, was hearing everyone’s reactions coming out of the concerts and hearing how awesome of a time they were all having as well. We love to see all of you here so we can’t wait to bring more concerts to SECCA with the Crossroads series! Crossroads #010 will happen sometime this summer–stay tuned on Facebook or Twitter for the latest information about the show or subscribe to our e-newsletter via our homepage.

Post by: Adrienne Fletcher, Marketing + PR Manager

4 African American Contemporary Artist to Watch

February 21, 2014

In honor of Black History Month one of our wonderful interns, Sherri Peterson, put together a short list of contemporary artists to check out. In the comments section, feel free to add your own list of artists!

John Bankston

SECCA Blog |John Bankston

John Bankston, “The Letter” Acrylic and Collaged Paper, 2003

First up, John Backston. Interested in the visual language of coloring books, Bankston uses his work as a platform to inform the viewer on issues of race, gender roles and in some cases health issues. Bankston creates visually an imaginary fairy tale world that relates easily with the viewer. 

John Bankston, "Magic Handwashing,"

John Bankston, “Magic Handwashing,”

John Bankston, "The Fabulist’s Colored Life,"

John Bankston, “The Fabulist’s Colored Life,”

Kara Walker

Kara Walker, "Gone, An Historical Romance of a Civil War as it Occurred between the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart [detail]," Cut paper original and templates w/signed certificate, 1994

Kara Walker, “Gone, An Historical Romance of a Civil War as it Occurred between the Dusky Thighs of One Young Negress and Her Heart [detail],” Cut paper original and templates w/signed certificate, 1994

Much like Bankston, the next artist, Kara Walker, also uses illustrations as a formative platform that is easily digested. Walker appropriates characters from the 19th century black stereotypes depicting racial, social, sexually explicit, and in some cases violent narratives about slavery in the south. Using black paper cut outs in an illustrative way, she not only connects to the viewer on many levels but also shocks them. The black silhouettes against the bare white gallery walls is particularly poignant to the reflections about a white dominated society.

Kara Walker, "Untitled," cut paper and adhesive on wall, 1998

Kara Walker, “Untitled,” cut paper and adhesive on wall, 1998

SECCA Blog| Kara Walker

Kara Walker, A Work on Progress, 1998. Cut paper on wall, 69 x 80 in. (175.3 x 203.2 cm). Collection of Judie and Howard Ganek for the Whitney Museum of Art

Rodney McMillian

Rodney McMillian, "Supreme Court," 2000

Rodney McMillian, “Supreme Court,” 2000

Our next artist is from our sister state. I wanted to find someone that was close to home and not from a big city and wanted to show that even someone from a city like Winston-Salem could become an influential artist. Not unlike the two artists mentioned before, McMillians work has an underlining message of race. Primarily an installation artist, McMillian fuses together sculpture, painting and cloth to use light and dark as a way to illustrate the boundaries of economic stature, culture and the human body.

Rodney McMillian, "Untitled," Vinyl and thread, 2010

Rodney McMillian, “Untitled,” Vinyl and thread, 2010

Rodney McMillian, "Untitled (flag)," Mixed media, acrylic on un-stretched canvas, fabric, grommets, 2006-2008

Rodney McMillian, “Untitled (flag),” Mixed media, acrylic on un-stretched canvas, fabric, grommets, 2006-2008

Hank Willis Thomas

Hank Willis Thomas, "Slack Power," (1969/2006), from Unbranded

Hank Willis Thomas, “Slack Power,” (1969/2006), from Unbranded

The last artist is Hank Willis Thomas, a photographer, whose work also relates to race. Thomas engages the viewer through his photos to view how society has objectified the identity of African Americans. Thomas also takes a look back at the history of African American culture using symbols from the past and connecting them with future.

Hank Willis Thomas, "Branded Head, series: Branded," Lambda photograph, 2003

Hank Willis Thomas, “Branded Head, series: Branded,” Lambda photograph, 2003

Hank Willis Thomas, "And One, series: Strange Fruit," digital c-print, 2011.

Hank Willis Thomas, “And One, series: Strange Fruit,” digital c-print, 2011.

Blog post written by: Sherri Peterson

Valentine’s Day Design

February 14, 2014
SECCA | Pin by Matt Stevens,

Pinterest VDay Card options, Pin by Matt Stevens,

Roses are red, violets are blue…

If there is anything that our current exhibition (Graphic Design–Now in Production) has taught us, it’s that graphic design is everywhere and most certainly so on Valentine’s Day. From the packaging on chocolates to the sea of advertisements from restaurants and florists, and of course the endless options of cards and love notes, design helps illustrate love and friendship all day long.

SECCA blog | Valentines Day Chocolate Wrapper by

Valentines Day Chocolate Wrapper by

SECCA blog | Valentine's Day Google Doodle

Valentine’s Day Google Doodle via

SECCA winston-salem blog | Valentine's Day Infographic

Valentine’s Day Infographic by and Column Five

Now using red lettering and lots of hearts seems like an easy job, but there is rhyme and reason to how designers work. There are six visual elements of design: color, line, shape, value (or tone), texture and form. And all of these together make the difference between cheesy and classy, friendly and intimate, eye-catching and eye-pleasing.

SECCA blog | Valentine's Day Card by Emily McDowell via

Valentine’s Day Card by Emily McDowell via

"Valentine's Day" movie poster via

“Valentine’s Day” movie poster via

SECCA winston-salem blog | "Sweetheart 2014" artwork

“Sweetheart 2014” artwork, Valentine’s Day Musical Collection available on CD exclusively at Starbucks

Simultaneously designers are also always using the principles of design: balance, economy, dominance, proportion, movement, harmony and variety. Clearly designers take a shot of steroids with their morning cup of multi-tasking.

SECCA winston-salem blog | Valentine's print by David Goh

Valentine’s print by David Goh ( via

SECCA winston-salem blog | Diesel Ad

Diesel Ad, Advertising Agency: Anomaly, London, UK

So as you get bombarded with love bombs all day and are trying to decide if an online Valentine is just as good to send as a paper one, stop and take a minute to analyze the design work of it all. How do the different elements express the overall tone? If it makes you laugh, why? Is it just the words? Or would they not be as funny without the visual elements?

Definitely leave us links to your favorite Valentine’s Day designs below in the comments.

And from all of us at SECCA:


SECCA wiston-salem blog | VDay print

“Love you winston-salem” print by CAPow

SECCA Exhibitions Through The Eyes of a Child

February 6, 2013

by Gordon Peterson, SECCA Foundation Board Member

Recently, I spent an interesting afternoon touring SECCA’s current exhibitions with Aidan, my 9-year-old little brother from the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program.

We walked into Vibha Galhotra’s Metropia exhibit with its works made of tiny bells and beads. His attention went immediately to the Dead Monster with its long body looping across the floor.

“Wow,” he said. “It looks like something I’ve seen in a video game.” Upon further review with a furrowed brow he proclaimed, “It must have taken a long time to make this.” I explained the long hours and the help from other Indian women to sew all the bells together and that they are like the ones we saw on the ankles of the Indian dancers he saw at a SECCA Community Day celebration. He nodded and said, “Yeah, I remember. They were cool.”

His attention quickly moved to the “giant snake,” better known as 15 Days in May and my first “why” question of the day.

“Why does she make these things?” I quickly responded as simply as I could that Vibha was expressing her feelings about her country through her art. He paused, and I could see another why question coming to the surface.

Before it surfaced, we moved on to Altering Boon, a hammock made of glass beads, wire and wood. “It’s pretty, but I don’t think I want to sit on it,” he said, which lead to a how question. “How did she make this thing?” I told him very carefully.

We then entered the Frank Selby: Misunderstanding exhibit, with its blurred photographic images drawn from chaotic moments in time of conflict.

“Are these pictures taken with a camera?” he asked. I told him they were drawings of photographs that prompted another why question.

“Why would he want to make a drawing of a photograph if he already had the photograph?” Aidan asked.

I quickly avoided a discourse on the concept of miscommunication in photographs and told him that the artist is making a drawing of what the photograph means to him and he is expressing that meaning.

Sensing a cloud forming in the eyes of the 9-year-old, I moved on to the next photo called Tullssa showing a crowd turning a car over. “What do you think of this drawing?” I asked.

“Why are those people so mad?” he asked in response. “Because,” I started … then stopped.

While we walked out of the exhibits and toward the parking lot, it occurred to me that SECCA is the perfect place to ask how and why questions, get some answers and then decide for yourself.


About Gordon Peterson:

A graduate of the University of North Carolina School of Journalism, Mr. Peterson has spent the majority of his career in the advertising agency business, both in New York and North Carolina. He worked for a group of diverse clients including Merrill Lynch, Avis, Pulte Homes, American International Group, The Walt Disney Company and The Washington Post Company.

A marketing consultant, Mr. Peterson is also on the boards of the Piedmont Opera and Friends of the Library, as well as the Docent Board at Reynolda House Museum of American Art. He served six years on the Winston-Salem Symphony Board. He is also a volunteer with Big Brothers and Big Sisters and Family House.


Preview of Tomory Dodge and Denyse Thomasos: Directions to a Dirty Place

January 31, 2013

Tomory Dodge and Denyse Thomasos (1964-2012) use paint to create spaces—whether natural or architectural—on their canvases. At the same time, they remind the viewer that, in fact, we are looking at a painting. Though Dodge’s more recent paintings are primarily abstract, his work involves creating territory on the canvas that is somewhat overlooked: strange places we have all experienced but sometimes wish we hadn’t.  In Tomory Dodge, a catalogue co-produced by ACME and CRG Gallery, Jeffrey Ryans mentions a Victor Hugo quote that aptly describes the places Dodge is trying to (re)create in his work.  Hugo writes about locations that are “somewhat ugly but bizarre, made up of two different natures…ends of trees, beginnings of shops, ends of beaten tracks, beginnings of passions…forever marked by the passerby with the epithet “sad.” In Dodge’s work we become the passerby, and we connect to the scenes in his paintings because we’ve experienced or imagined them before. For many people, these places hold mystery, and maybe even nostalgia.

Thomasos, on the other hand, is interested in creating interior spaces that reflect her personal and cultural history.  Thomasos moved from Trinidad to Canada when she was seven years old and felt isolated in her new environment.  This feeling echoes through her intense, contained spaces.  Her paintings often pertain to displacement as well as works that comment on slavery, genocide, and imprisonment.  The political statements reside in the structure of her work and the isolation and displacement in the interior, weaving together her personal and cultural history through color and line.

I will discuss a few of the pieces in the upcoming SECCA exhibition (opening March 22nd) that articulate core elements of the artists’ respective practices.  Dodge’s 2003 Debris Pool exemplifies his interest in places where nature and the beginnings (or endings) of urban life and industry meet.  He has many underlying themes in his work, but this particular painting relates to apocalypse and aftermath.  In this piece, we are seeing what could be the wreckage of a storm or a pool that has been neglected and filled with dirty detritus over time.  On first glance you might not see that you are looking in a pool because of its abstracted nature and Dodge’s use of paint.  Globs of white are the reflections in a sickly green pool of water.  An image of a pool full of floating debris is not necessarily an attractive one, but Dodge makes it seductive through his celebration of paint and color.  The piece, like many of his works, is a reminder of entropy: the inevitable and constant decay of matter present in everyday life. Thomasos’s 2003 painting Along the Yangtze, Boat is an abstract, almost monochromatic piece in which one can find the structure of two boats in its geometric network of white lines.  The Yangtze River is the third largest river in the world, and it has been a life source for Chinese people for thousands of years.  Thomasos is using abstraction to create an interior space—the boat—which represents travel as well as displacement.  It speaks to her own feelings of displacement as well as the uproot of people who were affected by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam.

Dodge’s more recent work is significantly more abstract; bright color and gesture are essential to his pieces, and the titles of each become increasingly important in the reading of each painting. Dragon Teeth (2010) has a bright array of colors against a green background reminiscent of the acidic water in Debris Pool.  The strong lines in the piece move the eye downward (as if each brushstroke could be imagined as a sharp tooth) while the rainbow colors contrast with the danger implied in the title. Behind each brushstroke one can see multiple layers of paint, and in effect, the painting is about painting and the overwhelming power of color. Thomasos’s 2010 painting Albatross is similarly abstract and vibrant—asserting that at its core, this piece is a painting regardless of the architectural allusions she creates within it.  The piece uses line and gesture to create a building structure that is initially unclear, hidden by the layers of paint and a variety of colors.  Hearing the title, I am immediately reminded of my high school English class and reading “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge.  In the poem, the albatross becomes a metaphor for burdens and obstacles.  In the painting, it seems that the albatross represents the obstacle of containment and the burden of isolation.  The architectural forms in the piece could represent a jail as well as a more personal loneliness; one that many experience in the movement across borders.

Both Dodge and Thomasos are using paint and gesture to shed light on spaces that we might wish to overlook, ignore, or avoid.  They fashion ambivalent spaces that call to question some of the horrors of history, and some of the promise that arose from the ashes.  Though Dodge’s paintings are “exterior,” combining nature and the crumbling outskirts of industry and Thomasos’s paintings are meant to be interior, representing containment and isolation, they are both working to create an atmosphere—a specific place that spans perimeters and geography.

I encourage you to experience the exhibition in person.  Directions to a Dirty Place will be on view until September 1, 2013 and Tomory Dodge will be giving an artist talk on Wednesday, March 20.  Please visit the SECCA website for more details.