Up & Coming Weekly

February 21, 2023

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 13 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM FEBRUARY 22 - 28, 2023 UCW 13 COVER Local artist, professor curates exhibition celebrating artists from Historically Black Colleges and Universities by ISAIAH JONES Common Roots: Many Branches is a touring exhibition featuring artists who are members of the National Alliance of Artists from Historically Black Colleges and Universities. e exhibit has more than 75 pieces on display in the Rosenthal Gallery at Fayetteville State University and the Ellington-White Contemporary Art Gallery in downtown Fayetteville. Rosenthal Gallery has more of the works on display. e show is curated and coordinated by Dwight Smith. An artist himself, Smith has some of his works displayed in this show. He's been a professor at Fayetteville State University for 15 years, where he teaches a variety of subjects from Renaissance to modern art and painting. Smith runs the Ellington- White Contemporary Art Gallery and curates shows at the Rosenthal Gallery. Up & Coming Weekly had a chance to sit down and discuss the Common Roots exhibition with Smith. We asked him why he felt it was important for this exhibit to be held at the Rosenthal Gallery. "We don't have a lot of artistic venues in this area for our students to see high quality art," he says. "Working with Black organizations like the NAAH- BCU and National Conference of Artists, I'm able to create more opportunities and I'm always trying to find ways for our students to view high quality artwork from a variety of artists." is touring exhibition features artists from HBCUs all around the country, especially North Carolina. Common Roots is on display until March 4, and is free and open to the public. e doors to the exhibition stay open throughout the day, allowing students and faculty to see high quality art at any given time. Moments like this mold artists and allow them to stay inspired throughout their educational journey. Celebrating Black History Month e Common Roots exhibition couldn't have been held at any better time — in the middle of Black History Month, a time to celebrate, recognize and appreciate Black history and the impact it has on our country. ere are many ways to celebrate this month, and one way to celebrate is to see Black creativity through art. U&CW asked Smith what he hopes students take away from this exhibition. He says, "I hope that the students see the potential for artistic growth and I hope this provides them with security within them- selves to create the artwork they're going to create. I really want them to understand that there are a lot of different styles and ways to make art in this exhibit, and they all work." Smith has been an artist for more than five de- cades, celebrating his 50th year of art a couple years ago at the Arts Council in downtown Fayetteville. His love for art grew as a child in school where he was able to have an art curriculum that allowed students to take art classes in elementary, middle and high school. He had his first art show when he was 19, then went on to further his education and received his Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Fine Arts, Master of Arts and Master of Fine Arts. Being involved with art most of his life, Smith acknowledges that being an art professor and being able to help his students grow as artists can feel like a full circle moment for him. U&CW asked if he gets more joy from showcasing his own work as an artist or teaching his students and watching them learn. "I like both! I never thought I'd be an art teacher. I was asked to be a guest painting instructor back in 2007. I've enjoyed being able to work with the students and I really love being able to teach the knowledge to my students that I've gained over the years from people that have helped me grow and become the person that I am today," Smith says. "I love showing my work and exhibiting, it gets me to a lot of different places round the world, but I love teaching the student, too." Representation Matters Having representation in the Black community is extremely important. So often, the African Ameri- can community gets boxed into what they can or can't do or can and can't be. Smith's active involve- ment in so many artistic ventures in the city paired with his academic accolades, he is able to be that representation for his students at a historically Black university, as well as younger artists he encounters while networking in the community. Smith doesn't take his duty as a Black role model in art and the teaching profession lightly. "My responsibility is to Black people, and the Black com- munity. As a senior Black man, it's my job to show and present the highest quality of art possible to the Black community and Black students to help them grow and to enrich their opportunities and exposure to things. Many times, we don't have the exposure that we need to grow, but our job is to ensure we give as much exposure as we can. It's my job to be a role model to my students." ere are many talented Black artists on display in Fayetteville during this Black History Month by teachers, students, freelancers and hobbyists. It's truly amazing to see art being celebrated this way in our city and we know the art scene will continue to thrive with great artists and teachers at the forefront. Common Roots: Many Branches is filled with all kinds of art mediums including large scale pho- tography prints, mixed media paintings and even sculpture work. Rosenthal Gallery is located on the FSU campus at 1200 Murchison Road. e Elling- ton–White Contemporary Art Gallery is located at 113 Gillespie Street. For more information call 910- 483-1388. ISAIAH JONES, U&CW Graphic Designer. COMMENTS? editor@upandcomingweekly. com. 910-484-6200. "A Pearl is a Pearl..." by Bryan M. Wilson Dwight Smith stands before his painting "Revelations #2" which is included in the Common Roots exhibition. "Master's Piece" by James Pate

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