WSSU

New Sculpture Added to the WSSU Campus

July 1, 2014

Winston-Salem State University has enjoyed a sculpture garden for more than 30 years, but recently saw a new piece of art come to the campus.

The Conversationalist by Chakaia Booker is now installed in the open space between the clock tower and the Thompson Student Services Center.  Booker uses tires as her primary medium and transforms the rubber by shaping, folding and arranging the pieces into emotive sculptures with myriad textures.  On loan for two years, The Conversationalist references relationships between two people and also incorporates aspects of African heritage.

"This sculpture is designed to explore the potential for unity and understanding that should come through conversations between people of different beliefs, cultures and values," said Belinda Tate, director of the Diggs Gallery on the campus of WSSU.  "Booker believes that art is really storytelling and her work challenges people to contribute to the story and still maintain an open mind towards the stories of others."

"The university maintains a world-class sculpture garden that attracts visitors and scholars from across the region.  It also provides student experiences and opportunities for teaching and learning in the humanities.  The Conversationalist is certainly a welcomed addition to the campus and also brings more gender balance to a public art collection comprised mostly of male artists."

Booker is an award-winning sculptor having earned the Whitney Biennial in 2000, the Pollock-Krasner Grant in 2002 and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005.  Her work has been exhibited widely both nationally and internationally, including at Diggs Gallery in 2002.  She also has pieces in the collections of selected institutions include The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.  Booker lives in New York City and her studio is located in Allentown, PA.

The WSSU sculpture garden was begun in 1981 when the Hanes Foundation provided landscaping for the project and former university trustee Gordon Hanes funded a national competition for the first piece.  Mel Edwards of New York was the finalist chosen and he created a 12-foot stainless steel sculpture called "Southern Sunrise" which was installed overlooking the front of the K. R. Williams Auditorium in 1983.

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