North Carolina History Painting: An Update

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Colin Quashie
Colin Quashie

Colin Quashie is the artist who is doing the large painting (45′ by 5′) for the School that will recognize the perspectives and achievements of African-Americans throughout North Carolina’s history.  I talked about the history of this project in an earlier blog.  Colin was here yesterday to have lunch with representatives from the Local Government Federal Credit Union (LGFCU)—the generous folks who have partnered with us to fund a number of projects, including the $45,000 for the painting.

Chandra Cox (NCSU Dept of Art & Design), Ann Simpson, Michael Spink (LGFCU Communications), Ashely Ruffin (LGFCU Marketing), Mark Caverly (LGFCU Exec VP)

Here’s Colin’s perspective on the meeting from his blog, which gives you a flavor for his personality. 

 “I’m not going to lie to you, the suits usually scare me to the point that I try and avoid them at all possible costs. Corporate and artists are usually oil and water that separate along a distinct creative line. But considering what this crew has done and their affiliation with the School of Government, they had to be given the benefit of doubt and assumed cool until proven guilty. I’m happy to report that we had an absolutely wonderful lunch meeting. They were attentive and very committed to the project beyond their financial aid. It’s attitudes like that that makes you appreciate the sponsorship even more and want to work even harder to ensure that they are kept in the creative loop as much as possible.”

Colin invited everyone to visit him at his studio in Charleston to watch the creative process first hand.

Colin talked with our friends from LGFCU about his original conception of the work and how it has continued to evolve.  They asked good questions and he showed them the layout of the painting—many of the background photos are placeholders.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge

It is fascinating to listen to him talk about the painting and watch his creative mind continue to work through the different challenges of the project.  One feature that he’s added is a series of related historical events from North Carolina that will be viewed through the window behind the lunch counter.  For example, in the layout there is a scene with Dr. King and Reverend Abernathy arriving in Durham for meetings following the sit-ins in Greensboro.  Colin is visiting the North Carolina Archives this week to continue his research on the project, which includes trying to find images for some of the people who will be included in the painting.

He has just finished renovating part of a building in Charleston for his studio, and it has a wall that is the perfect size for this large painting—the plan is to put up the canvas next week and begin painting early in December.  Colin is working with a videographer who will chronicle the creation of the painting, and all of us will be able to follow it on his website.  John Sanders once said that our current murals are neither good history nor good art.  Colin’s painting will be both good history and good art, and it will be a source of pride for all of us.  This is the coolest project. 

Special thanks to Ann Simpson for all of her hard work on this project, and I’m sure that she will keep us posted on how we can follow the progress of the painting.

5 thoughts on “North Carolina History Painting: An Update

  1. Having participated in the brainstorming sessions, artist selection committee, and hunt for funding, it is totally awesome to watch this come together. I believe that it was one of the other artist, invited to share his work, that made the comment that “art should make you feel something”. Colin’s work will definitely make you “feel something”. I look forward to his work adding to the history and reputation of the School of Government across the country.

    In fact, I believe that this is yet another example of our being responsive to course participants, long term donors, and Albert and Gladys Coates. As Mr. Coates stated in “The Story of the Institute of Government”: “Let me say that the dreams of all of us in the Institute have mixed with the dreams of those who have gone before us, and will mix with the dreams of those who come after us, in the spirit of all for one and one for all —– and let it go at that.”

    Colin’s work permits a fusion of the dreams of the past and the dreams for a better future.

  2. It’s so nice to sound competent. 😉 Thanks to all of the staff at the SOG for all of the help they have given me with this phase of the project (even the woman who posed for a reference photo in the dining facility) – now if I could only find a few artists in the pack that need to spend some time in Charleston (yes, I’ll put you to work but you’ll at least come away with dinner time stories). I have to give a big shout out to your intern Barron Monroe. He saved me a tremendous amount of time at the Wilson library. Thanks! I owe you big time.

  3. Thanks for this ‘behind the paint brush’ insight into the process of creating art. It makes me anxious to learn more and to see the final product!

  4. Colin, it would be a blast to come down to Charleston and assist you. Unfortunately, I can’t even draw blood. However, I do have some experience doing historical research, so if you are ever in need of any further assistance in that area, please feel free to contact me.

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