Arts Council receives grant to expand school program

06 FCC ArtsCouncil TAG 4CThe Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County announced the expansion of the Artists In Schools initiative with the assistance of a grant from the North Carolina Glaxo SmithKline Foundation.

The Arts Council received $25,000 through the Ribbon of Hope Grant Program to expand access to AIS for Title One schools in Cumberland County.AIS is a program explicitly developed to prepare students for the challenges they face in the next decade by including an interactive arts education experience.

Artists in Schools goes beyond painting, singing and dancing. AIS provides schools with highly trained professional artists who work with teachers and students in core subject matter areas through the arts.

Artists In Schools has operated in partnership with Cumberland County Schools for over two decades. Since 2005, AIS serves approximately 20,000 students in grades K to 12 each year in Cumberland County and over 300,000 in total.

“The Ribbon of Hope directly aligns with our goal for the AIS Program: expansion of a successful arts and culture initiative to meet the needs of our youth in Cumberland County,” said Bob C. Pinson, interim president and CEO of the Arts Council.

Carolina artist takes us on historic journey

01 05 FAITHFUL JOURNEY by artist Richard WilsonRichard Wilson is a prolific artist who can create a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that will stand out in any art show, contest or crowd. Up & Coming Weekly recently sat down with the authentic artist to discuss making history, his favorite work of art and the moment his passion for drawing began.

How did it feel being the first African-American artist to have a portrait displayed in a North Carolina courthouse?
I was commissioned by The Phoenix Historical Society in Tarboro, North Carolina, to do the portrait of George Henry White, the last former slave to serve in Congress. I was grateful to do it and we also had an art show to coordinate with the unveiling of the portrait of my work. After the unveiling, Mr. Knight [of the Historical Society] was interviewed by the television station and indicated that not only did they make history that night with the portrait, but the artist made history as well by being the first African-American artist to have a portrait hung in any courthouse in North Carolina. I was shocked when I heard that. I was a young budding artist at the time and I was just trying to get my name out there and thought this was a great opportunity for people to get to know who I am. It got my name out there and the show that we did right after that, I had a few of my pieces sell before the show had started. That was an honor for me.

Please share your story of how you began drawing.
I started drawing at the age of 8 and I remember watching my dad because he was an artist. My dad used to paint the signs in the town that we lived in and I would help him paint those signs. One thing that was really vivid in my memory was I remember sitting at the dinner table and my dad was drawing me and my brothers while we were sitting at the table. It was so realistic and I thought it was so amazing. It sparked something in me and I started doing it myself and have never stopped.

Do you have a favorite work of art and can you tell us why?
That is a hard question because all of the girls in my paintings are my daughters and all of the boys are my nephews. One of them is a piece called “Between Us.” It is a little girl and boy standing by a tree. This piece is the one that actually put me on the map. I was determined to get my work shown to the world so I took vacation leave to send this piece to New York. There was an international art competition in New York called the Pastel Society of America and I entered the contest. The president of the society called to congratulate and tell me that I won one of the top awards which is the National Arts Club Award. I was floored when I heard this. I won $1,000 and a certificate.

Tell our readers how your Facebook Live Art Shows came about.
I started this because what I normally do is travel all over the country doing the top arts festivals in several different states. I travel as far as Colorado, Florida and New York. Right when COVID-19 hit, all of my shows started canceling. I had to figure out a way to reach my clients so I decided to do this Facebook Live Art Show and sell my prints. That is how that came about. It has been going very well. When I first started I didn’t think about the fact that I had to do a lot of shipping because when I go to the shows I take the artwork in the van and sell it right there on the spot. Now I am getting a lot of orders so I have to package stuff up. I am doing a lot of shipping and I’m not complaining about it, but it is just another thing added to my workload. Once I get back on the road I will continue to do this because it has allowed me to reach people that I was not reaching at my shows. Social media is one of the things that I was lacking in because I was traveling all the time and just selling my work from place to place. I was trying to do a little bit of social media to try to reach people, but now I am able to reach a lot more people online than I did before.
I’ve gained some new collectors since I’ve started doing the live show. I still have a website and a lot of people that I’ve seen at shows, I still have them on my mailing list. I have 15,000 people on my mailing list that I generated from doing shows over the years. I’m networking with more people now than I did before.

Tell us about the inspiration behind the piece “Faithful Journey.”
It is based off of my life. It is about me stepping out on faith to become a full-time artist. I was actually teaching an art class at Pitt Community College. My goal has always been to do my art full time. In 2014, I told my wife that I had to give myself a chance to do this because you only live once and I have to step out and go for it. So I added more shows to my schedule to compensate my teaching salary and the very first show I did after I quit my job, I made more money that weekend than I did teaching for a whole year. That opened my eyes and that is what “Faithful Journey” is all about because the little boy that was looking back was the voice that was speaking to me right before I told my boss that I was going to leave my job to do my art full time. The little girl pulling the little boy along was that voice that started telling me that we were going to be alright, let’s go! I never looked back and I have been full time ever since. It has been the best decision I have ever made.

Wilson’s art is being featured in Cool Spring Downtown District’s Art Alley until Dec. 31. Located at 222 Hay St. in downtown Fayetteville, the Art Alley is free and open from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. For more information on Wilson and his art visit

Above photo: "Faithful Journey"

Below clockwise: "Going Up Yonda," "Between Us," "Stretching Ballerina," "Bessie Coleman"

All photos courtesy of Richard Wilson

01 01 GOING UP YONDA by artist Richard Wilson  01 02 Between Us  01 04 BESSIE COLEMAN by artist Richard Wilson  01 03 STRETCHING BALLERINA web



Cumberland Choral Arts transitions to virtual performance and collaboration

09 01 CCA dressed upCumberland Choral Arts is continuing its efforts of making music by adapting to a virtual format during the pandemic. Instead of performing for live audiences this year as they have since 1991, they are using YouTube and Facebook to reach people and present their music.

“In order to operate in the times of COVID, you kind of have to throw dynamite underneath the concept of what a performance organization is and just reconstruct how you see things,” Dr. Michael Martin, artistic director for Cumberland Choral Arts, said. “We moved away from the standard concert method, and we’re going to do these concerts virtually, it's not an easy format to adapt to.”

They are in the process of recording different choral pieces and are enlisting community members to join them for a virtual presentation of the “Hallelujah Chorus" from “Messiah.” The English-language oratorio was written in 1741 by German-born composer George Frideric Handel. Originally written for Easter, “Messiah” has become a Christmas holiday favorite. The CCA performance of the piece is usually delivered to full audiences, many joining in for the “Hallelujah Chorus" — the most widely known section of the composition.

Martin said Cumberland Choral Arts is inviting community members who know the music to submit a video. There is online learning material available to use as a guide, as voices will be synchronized better later.

The Campbellton Youth Chorus will be participating in the “Hallelujah Chorus" as well, said Donna Jo Mangus, artistic director of the Campbellton Youth Chorus, affiliate of the Cumberland Choral Arts.

All the videos will be compiled by the director and assistant director, mixing video and audio and synchronizing all the pieces to make the finished product, Mangus said.

Martin said he had been working on new technology since last year that allowed them to do a series of projects virtually. Some of the challenges with going virtual have been getting the synchronization right and getting the rights to upload those things on the internet, he said.

“That’s kind of what we’ve been doing, trying to navigate technology and stay relevant in the eyes of people who would want to come and watch us sing,” Martin said.

The organization has two concerts planned for the next year, a women composer concert in March celebrating Women’s History Month and suffrage, as well as a “Tour of the World” themed concert in May displaying music from different cultures.

Martin said he might blend the two but teaching them in a virtual format will be a challenge and may affect how the timeline will work out.

“We are going to have a series of things uploaded to our social media that people can watch on their time,” he said. Martin plans to have next year’s scheduled finalized over the holiday season.

The Campbellton Youth Choir hosts four concerts a year with children aged 9-14. It is open to all, regardless of their schooling situation.

Mangus said they will be posting their songs virtually to the Cumberland Choral Arts handle at

Going virtual has given young singers a chance to learn how to collaborate with other interested singers in the area, she said.

The youth choir is an opportunity for young singers to perform in a group and make music together for the shared experience, to have appreciation for the song and lyrics, and the beautiful melodies, wider range of dynamics, there's nothing like it when you're a singer, Mangus said.

“I think the artistic community sees relevance for any kind of ensemble that’s part of our community especially now that COVID has hit, it brings us together and it's so important and music just answers that equation,” Martin said.

Mangus and Martin both encourage anyone with a singing talent to participate virtually, to strengthen the community of singers.

“As we become technologically advanced and have every reason in the world to stay away from one another but that's not the human condition and I feel so strongly about this,” Martin said. “Even before COVID, we could find so many things that were just disposable means of entertainment that you could just come do and leave, but there's nothing of longevity, but here we are and all those means of entertainment are closed down or regulated but here we are, still singing and making music together.”

For more information on submitting a video for the “Hallalujah Chorus," the Cumberland Choral Arts and Campbellton Youth Choir, visit

Pictured above: Dr. Michael Martin (left ) is the Artistic Director for Cumberland Choral Arts. Martin and the CCA are working to offer virtual performances that audiences can view online.
(Photo courtesy Cumberland Choral Arts)

Pictured below: Cumberland Choral Arts is encouraging members of the communty to submit videos of themselves singing the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's "Messiah," to be inlcuded in the virtual performance. (Photo courtesy Cumberland Choral Arts)

09 02 Cumberland Choral Handel

Artists Who Teach 2020, a remedy for online sensory overload

01 01 Cartier 000012 069541 891069 7977After months of staying home due to COVID-19, I felt comfortable visiting a gallery. My first stop was to see the exhibit Artists Who Teach 2020 at Ellington White Contemporary Gallery. I was not disappointed and upon leaving the exhibit I felt a sense of joy seeing works created by art educators from around the country.

Curator Dwight Smith extended the exhibit until Dec. 19 so more people could visit the gallery and see 36 original works in a variety of media from artists working in higher education and public schools. The gallery and online exhibit are the result of artists from 26 states participating in the national competition by sending 156 images to be part of the selection process.

Leaving the gallery, I realized my approach to writing an art editorial for Up & Coming Weekly would not be the same as before 2020. Too much has happened this year which has impacted our daily lives and community. A paradigm shift has taken place in Fayetteville, the American culture and around the globe. Then there is the obvious, why would people venture out to see Artists Who Teach 2020 when viewing works of art has become more online accessible than ever before?

We can stay at home and visit museums and galleries around the world from our living room. Technology and live streaming have defined “our today” in many positive ways; but unfortunately, it has also become a consuming mass distraction — the 2020 Zeitgeist of seeing reproductions online lacks the experiential or contemplation.

The concept of zeitgeist traditionally refers to the overall spirit of an age (politically, economically and culturally) and cannot be known until it is over. So why does it feel like the 2020 Zeitgeist is not only upon us, but “all over us?” I could go with the contemporary version of zeitgeist, though not pragmatic, and refer to what is tasteful in today’s culture … I do not think that is even possible.

The information highway is not new, but 2020 online, virtual accessibility and mass communication has fast-forwarded us into sensory overload. This includes, but is not limited to, the lingering COVID pandemic and the resounding influences of the internet: live streaming, hashtags to esports, social distancing to online education, podcasts, Zoom, video-based communities, what is factual, what is real, the video is becoming the main medium for critical cultural moments, and lots and lots and lots of tweets. According to, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter every second with 145 million daily active users on Twitter, an average of which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year.

If you do go to “internetlivestats” you will see a page of flickering, perpetually increasing numbers. Numbers across the screen flick as they are constantly totaling upwards to reveal what happens in a day, by seconds, to compute the increased usage of the following: internet users of the world, number of emails sent, number of websites, google searches, blogs and tweets, videos seen on YouTube, photos uploaded from Instagram, Tumblr posts, actives users on Google, Facebook, Pinterest and Skype, number of websites hacked, number of computers, smartphones and tablets sold, internet traffic, electricity used today on the internet and CO2 emissions from the internet. It is easy to see, hands down, how this website image affirms and IS the definitive 2020 Zeitgeist!

If you are still reading after the last two paragraphs, a slight sensation might be taking place — too much information! Sensory overload is a part of 2020. Sensory input is most often pleasing; but when we have sensory overload, when one or more of our bodily senses’ experience over stimulation — it can be very unpleasant.

The main purpose of the internet is to provide global access to data and communications. Sensory overload of information occurs when we do not practice the purpose of information: to resolve uncertainty. Full circle to the beginning of the article: technology and live streaming not only define “our today” in positive ways; but it also has the potential to become a consuming mass distraction - lacking the experiential or contemplation. Bottom line, the explosive growth of information has become sensory overload, unpleasant and even inhibits thinking.

A starting point to reestablish the best of the remnants of 2019 and back to the notion of thinking, feeling and the real is possible at Ellington White Contemporary Gallery. Curator Smith noted: “Due to the success of last year’s competition, this is the second year we conducted and presented the results of a national competition among art educators. The art educators are from higher education and the public schools’ systems across the nation. The exhibit is a very diverse group of paintings, drawings, prints, mixed media works, and three-dimensional works and showcases the arts as an essential part of a complete education. It does not matter if happens in the home, school, or community. Students of all ages, from kindergarten to college, and creative program all benefit from artistic learning, innovative thinking, and the creative imagination.”

Smith, also an Associate Professor of Art at Fayetteville State University, and Vilas Tonape, artist, and chair of the Visual Arts Department at Methodist University, both juried the competition from the 156 entries. Tonape selected the six award winners. Ellington White Contemporary Gallery is not only hosting the gallery exhibit but also created an online exhibit. Both exhibits will remain on the gallery online website for one year.

Online exhibits have been extremely important in 2020 to galleries and museums, but it does not replace the real. Works of art in galleries and museum are more relevant than ever before. Comparing two of the works in Artists Who Teach 2020 is my way of exemplifying the differences and why supporting local galleries is important now and, in the future, when the COVID restrictions are finally lifted.

While writing this article, I contacted Beverly Henderson, the student intern at Ellington White Gallery, and asked her one simple question: how do you like the exhibit? Her last remarks were: “… a lot of diversity in the works. It was different seeing the work online and when the original works arrived. After we hung the exhibit and I had time to look, I could see more details and felt an emotion from the real work which I did not feel when seeing the online version.”

Henderson is correct, as soon as you enter the gallery visitors will immediately see very diverse approaches to image or object making; but they will also, unknowingly, sense materiality. Then it takes real time in a real space to examine and compare how each artist creates the content of their work with style, composition and use of materials.

The materiality of the painting titled “Three Brushes” by Larry Hamilton, from Wichita Falls, Texas, is a masterful oil painting. The beautifully painted small still life captures the essence of a moment in time. Viewers can get close to the oil painting on panel and see a manipulated surface, transitions of light, saturated color, half tones and atmosphere. The physical richness of surface is subtle as it catches the light created of paint and paint medium.

In comparison, the style of Danielle Cartier, from Camden, New Jersey, is a mixed media work titled “Ever Knew” and is the opposite of Hamilton’s painting. Instead of a traditional still life, the artist has created a multilayered abstract and referential surface using acrylic paint, spray paint and mixed media. Her style is to juxtapose unlike images in the same work to evoke new meaning for the viewer.

Hamilton’s painting evokes an aesthetic sense of presence, calm, beauty and structure. Cartier’s work is ethereal, moving parts create a whole, we sense process and the act of looking. Whereas Hamilton’s’ pictorial space is about volumetric form, light and the effects of color; Cartier’s work is about decoding messages and signs.

In both works there is a time element. In “Three Brushes” we sense the artist is sharing a long period of contemplative looking. The exact opposite, Cartier’s “Ever Knew” are the many references and signs we overlook and do not see during the day.

One could say the attributes of each work is conveyed online. But it is not impossible. The online versions are pictures of a picture (the painting or mixed media). The absence of material results in passive looking. Seeing the actual constructed work is a visceral activity, an active experience which includes the physical presence of the object themselves.

Even though “Three Brushes” is enjoyed for the illusion of space that is created on a flat surface, it is still first and foremost, an actual object in space that has literal texture, density and weight. Even though most viewers do not think about the qualities inherent in the object, those inherent characteristics are integral to the overall authenticity of the work and are not present in the online version or the reproductions in this article.

One could say those same aesthetics are communicated online. My answer would be there is a resemblance, but it is not the same. We do not see or experience the physical depth of a painting medium or the tactile edges of mixed media work in an online version. We do not see the differences in the actual surface of the color from spray paint, the chalky quality of pigment blown onto the surface compared to the color of suspended pigment in an oil medium as leaves a tube of paint.

As an analogy, you do not need to know the science of a sunset to enjoy it. But the sunset would not exist without the science. And experiencing a real sunset is better than a reproduction. That premise relates back to the authenticity of the sunset which exists in time and space. So, it is with a work of art.

No matter how close technology can bring us to examine a microscopic, detailed surface of a painting – images in this article and online are reproductions. This idea was explored as far back as the late 1930s by Walter Benjamin in his book titled “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” The early 20th century was the beginning of mass communication, mass culture and mass commodification. Within that context, Benjamin emphasizes the value of an authentic work of art is the result of its “aura.” It is the “aura” we enjoy and that includes the object’s presence in time and space. It is the same with a sunset, the validity of seeing the real over a reproduction is its physicality, its “aura.”

In closing, I would like to share a personal story which summarizes everything. After seeing the paintings by Vincent Van Gogh in books and online for over 20 years, I had the opportunity to see a body of his work at the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. Upon seeing the real work, I immediately realized, after so many years, I had never really seen a painting by Van Gogh. What I had experienced before going to the exhibit, were not remotely comparable to seeing the real painting.

So here we are, on the precipice of an increasingly changing technological future. And since, according to Benjamin, “our sensory perspective is not completely biological or natural, it is also historical,” what does the future look like for us? How will the internet influence what we value? What choices will we make to prioritize what we do with our time, and how will we choose to deal with increasing mass media and internet overstimulation?

Perhaps it will not be gloomy, but it will have the opposite affect. We will take action to deal with internet sensory overstimulation of information by doing more of the activities we know helps: critical thinking and reflection, take a walk during our lunch break at work, visit parks or take long walks during the weekend, go to the theater, a musical performance or to a gallery.

The exhibit Artists Who Teach 2020 is a good place to start and if you take the time to look at each work you will leave the gallery with a sense of pleasure unlike seeing artwork online. Please note the exhibit will not be up for long, until Dec. 19. The gallery is not open Monday-Thursday, but only open on Friday and Saturday between 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Like all businesses everyone is required to wear a mask when they enter the gallery. The exhibit was possible by a grant from the Fayetteville and Cumberland County Arts Council. For information mail or go to their website:

 Pictured above: "Ever Knew" by Danielle Cartier from Camden, New Jersey.

01 02 Hamilton 000025 086543 568785 7977

01 03 Kuehl 000031 086704 736915 7977











Top left: "Three Brushes" by Larry Hamilton from Wichita Falls, Texas

Top right: "Made in USA" by Dan Kuehl from Roanoke, Virginia

Bottom left: "Breath" by Paul Adams from Lindon, Utah

Bottom right: "Life Series" by Jennifer Salzman from Creswell, Oregon

01 01 Adams Breath wet collodion tintype2000

01 04 Salzman 000051 079017 496313 7977

FTCC's C-STEP represents avenue to pursue American dream

The Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program, or C-STEP, housed in the office of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, seeks to admit, identify, enroll and graduate high-achieving, low-to-moderate income students transferring to UNC-Chapel Hill from partner community colleges.

Fayetteville Technical Community College’s C-STEP program began in 2011. Each year, two cohorts of students — a group of first-year FTCC students and a group of second-year FTCC students — participate in C-STEP.

FTCC students Halona Dantes and Anjali Saji attended FTCC’s open house during summer 2019. Both young ladies arrived in Fayetteville the day before the open house event. Both students are from India where their mothers, who are nurses, participated with a recruiting agency for nurses to allow their families to emigrate from their home country to the United States. Neither student nor family knew each other before their arrival in Fayetteville.

“My parents sacrificed a lot for me, and the thought of having a chance to better myself with the educational opportunities within the United States is what motivated my parents to make the move,” Dantes said.

The process for Dantes' parents to leave Kuwait and Saji’s parents to leave Bahrain began in 2018 and was not an easy feat.

Dantes said, “The process is hard and intense, and I wanted to do well in college because of all the advantages my parents were trying to afford me with.”

Each family had to complete a compilation of tests and exams in English and score proficiently in each area to pass. They also had to complete and pass an interview. At the time, they did not know that both mothers would end up working as nurses at Cape Fear Valley Hospital.

After applying and being selected to C-STEP, both students quickly adjusted to the program and made friends with their cohorts.

Saji reflected on that early period: “I was really scared, and I had a fear about coming from abroad and being accepted," she said. "However, my cohort group was very accepting and welcoming. The fear I had about making friends vanished because I got to make friends through class engagement and various other components that the program provides.”

Each student exudes the embodiment of what it means to be a C-STEP student. Each student has goals, accountability, strong character and a desire to achieve and give back to the community.

The C-STEP program requires interested students to earn their associate degree at a North Carolina Community College and then transfer to Carolina to complete their studies. Once a student completes a degree at FTCC, he or she is guaranteed admissions into Carolina.

But the advantages offered to C-STEP students go far beyond providing them with admission into UNC-Chapel Hill. C-STEP is an all-encompassing program that allows students to gain extensive knowledge of the Carolina campus, meet key individuals who will be of aid when they arrive at Carolina, and receive an opportunity to learn and grow with like-minded individuals who become far more than just peers.

Saji summed up her motivation to succeed: “How could I not do well in my classes? My parents have given up and sacrificed so much to give me a better chance.”

For more information about FTCC and C-STEP, please contact the author, the FTCC C-STEP Progam Director, at

07 01 DSC 0734Halona

07 02 DSC 0709anjali











Pictured:  (Left) Halona Dantes and (Right) Anjali Saji.  Both are students in FTCC's C-STEP program.

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