Black History: Artists’ Perspectives Exhibition at Hayti

Jamil Burton’s “American Pride,” on exhibit at Hayti Heritage Center. (Staff photo by Lamel Batts)


During February, the Hayti Heritage Center hosted its annual Black History: Artists’ Perspectives exhibition with powerful art by various artists.

Jamil Burton’s “Hanging Fruit” evoked powerful reactions from visitors to the annual Artists’ Perspectives exhibit at the Hayti Heritage Center. (Staff photo by Lamel Batts)

The free exhibition was curated by Willie R. Bigelow, who is also an artist featured in the exhibit. Bigelow started the exhibit in 2016, hoping to feature African American artists and showcase their artwork for Black History Month.

“I was looking for a venue for African American artists for Black History Month to give something for them to do to celebrate or to represent Black History in Durham,” Bigelow explained. Although this year’s exhibit has closed, artists should be on the lookout for the call for next year.

“It is open to any African American artist that is over the age of 18 that is interested in exhibiting,” Bigelow said. “They have to be able to sign a contract with the Hayti Heritage Center for insurance purposes and people who are under the age of 18 are not allowed to sign a contract, so that’s why you have to be 18 or older.”

The exhibit displayed various forms of artwork including paintings, sketches, sculptures and quilts.

Hayti Heritage’s Administrative Assistant Polly Whitted mentioned that some paintings received a great amount of attention because they were inspired by the new Marvel film “Black Panther” that was released in February.

Nancy Cash makes a powerful statement with her quilt “The Power of Words” (Staff photo by Lamel Batts)

The paintings were titled “Welcome to Wakanda,” “Welcome to Wakanda II,” and “Welcome to Wakanda III.”

The paintings were a set by Olivia Gatewood and consisted of three abstract paintings full of warm and vibrant colors that resembled the colors that the Wakandian tribes wore in the movie.

Art lover Ashanti Woolard attended the Artists’ Perspectives exhibition and said, “Jamil Burton’s “Hanging Fruit” caught my attention because it reminded me of a modern-day version of the poem “Strange Fruit” and had a hidden message that makes you stop and wonder what the artist is trying to say.

Turkessa Brice, a visitor from New Bern said, “I really enjoy ‘The Power of Words’ by Nancy Cash, not only because it is a quilt and not a painting, but because of its messages and phrases like ‘Dignity’ and s’tand your ground’ stitched into it…. It is a piece that I would truly love to have in my own home.”