The dream of a sculpture garden arose over twenty years ago from the rubble of a worn-out auditorium razed to make way for a new one. Including sculpture in the plans for the new building was suggested to Chancellor Kenneth R. Williams. He spoke with Gordon Hanes, a former trustee, who became enthusiastic about establishing an area for outdoor sculpture around the new auditorium. The Hanes Foundation provided landscaping for the project and, in 1981, Gordon Hanes proposed that the first piece of sculpture should be chosen through a national competition funded by him and conducted by the university.
Jurors for the first competition were artists Selma Burke, David Driscoll and Richard Hunt. Mel Edwards of New York was the finalist chosen to create his twelve-foot stainless steel sculpture overlooking the front of the auditorium. It was installed in 1983.
The judges of the second competition, held in 1984, were museum curators David Collens of Storm King Sculpture Park, Jean E. Feinberg, who is now with the Cincinnati Museum of Art. The unexpected result was that the works of all three finalists were commissioned for the campus. A three-part stone work by Beverly Buchanan and a wood sculpture by Roberto Bertoia were installed early in 1985. A large cor-ten steel sculpture by Tyrone Mitchell, funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, was placed in the courtyard of the new business school by the fall of the next year.
Gift of Gordon Hanes
1984 | 7' x 11 1/2' x 6' | pink granite
Many artists undergo startling stylistic changes during the course of their life's work. This is the case with Beverly Buchanan (born 1940, North Carolina) as evidenced by the difference between her outdoor stone sculpture Garden Ruins and the indoor sculptures and drawings on the theme of the southern shack.
Garden Ruins is a strong, emotive piece composed of giant stones. It is a monument to a previous time and culture, a romantic statement, filled with nostalgia and grandeur. Buchanan's current work is devoted exclusively to exploring the shack as it exists throughout the rural South. It is a cultural phenomenon, an architectural form loaded with racial, social, political and economic meaning. Also taken case by case, as Buchanan does, each shack tells a particular, personal history.
With a stylistic approach that embraces the aesthetics of folk art, Buchanan builds shacks from scraps of cedar, pine cardboard and tin on a variety of scales. She has also sculpted modest contents for these homes: a table, a chair, a hat hung on the wall. Exhibited with these items are texts-poignant stories about the homeowners that frequently focus on the improved lives of the inhabitants' children and grandchildren. Buchanan's shacks possess great dignity. They celebrate the strong constitutions and valuable legacy of those who lived within and survived to the best of their abilities in this poverty of circumstance.
Gift of the National Endowment for the Arts and Gordon Hanes
1985 | 8' x 40' diameter | stone, steel, granite
Tyrone Mitchell's (born 1944, Georgia) outdoor work for Winston-Salem State University is titled Po Tolo, the Dogon word for the star Sirius B. It is the most ambitious public sculpture on the campus and, as is the case with all of Mitchell's work, unites several aspects of African culture with contemporary, western sculptural concerns.
Mitchell has stated that the basic form of Po Tolo comes from his contact with the architectural remains of the Kingdom of Zimbabwe, in particular their thin, stone, serpentine walls. This piece also is in the vocabulary of the most recent public art. Rather than being an object in the landscape, it is an environmental work, a physical place to be entered that reverberates with the artist's intentions.
In Po Tolo a circular wall (40 feet in diameter) is broken into three embracing units. Each unit is pierced, so that the viewer/pedestrian can either physically pass through the ring into the inner sanctum by walking through the openings or else one can stand outside the circle and look inward through the openings. In the center are two concentric circles. One is at grade level. The other raised. together they become a platform for a large granite stone. Mitchell has thus enshrined the stone so that its power as an object of veneration is clear. The stone is an abstract shape that appeals to the modern eye. It also emits a mythic energy, that is the Dogon tradition, communicates a spiritual approach to our understanding of the universe.
Mitchell's indoor sculptures also strive to unite many sculptural and philosophical traditions-African, Asian and Contemporary Western. His formal language possesses a rich symbology about humankind and its relationship to the natural world - a concern of many cultures both ancient and modern.
Gift of Gordon Hanes
1981 | 2' 1" x 16' x 16' | stainless steel
The first sculpture commissioned for the Winston-Salem State University campus was Southern Sunrise, an abstract, stainless steel piece by Melvin Edwards (born 1937, Texas). The piece is composed of geometric elements, flat planes whose surfaces are brushed. This surface articulation interacts with the sunlight and enlivens each form, so that the simple shapes offer an endless array of readings.
Over a thirty year period, Edwards has worked on several bodies of work, devoting more or less time and energy to each according to personal desire and professional circumstance. Southern Sunrise is among his numerous large and medium scale geometric abstractions created for outdoor sites or large museum spaces. Since 1963, Edwards has also created a series of several hundred small wall pieces, known as the Lynch Fragments. each small sculpture merges a variety of found steel objects with the artist's sculpted steel shapes. the multiplicity of meaning and formal diversity that result are nothing short of extraordinary. Edwards insists that the Fragments be hung at eye level. This positioning leads to an animistic sensation; the work confronts the viewer more than the other way around. Certain pieces speak directly to the history of slavery and the current political and social oppression of African-Americans. Others connect more to the sculptor's affection for the metal worker's tradition-both in America and Africa-and a pure love of material, expressive abstraction and the assemblage technique.
Gift of Artworks for State Buildings Project
1996 | 19' x 24' x 9' | steel
Peacock's sculpture , (Other) Voices, echoes the theme of ascension and the choices found along life's pathways but in anon-representational, three dimensional form. Peacock, who often uses poetry as "a way of getting to my own ideas", was inspired by a poem by Arthur Nortje, called the 'forgotten poet of South Africa.' The fourth stanza from Nortje's poem London Impressions II speaks of "having learnt the value of other faces, acquired the pace and tone of other voices."
The curved shapes seen in (Other) Voices, repeatedly appear in different forms in Peacock's work. These rib-like forms allude to human and animal ribcages; the skeletal, structural underpinnings of boats; and the vaulted ceilings of medieval churches. Abstracted, linear, elongated minimalist, and graceful, Peacock's characteristic forms also refer to the artist's enduring childhood memory of a large ship beached on the Oregon coast. Peacock's sculpture embrace their surrounding space while reaching out in different directions: leading the way, pointing out new directions, and offering many choices.
(Other) Voices is the 16th project completed in the Artworks for State Buildings Program, a North Carolina Arts Council project. One of the strengths of the program has been the diversity of the artworks. Artists have created artworks reflecting the needs of each project's community and the site's unique history, character, relevance or use. As a result, this public art collection reflects North Carolina's rich, broad range of people and experiences, from rural to urban settings.