Several visiting artists from the Dominican Republic left a lasting impression on Davidson County – literally.
Héctor Blanco, Máximo Ceballo, Ezequiel Soto, Carlos Veras and Freddy Alcántara Ramírez worked tirelessly along with students and instructors from Davidson County Community College (DCCC) and area artists on the mural art project, “Roots: Social Histories through Murals.” They created a colorful pictorial message that captures the history of Davidson County.
DCCC students, faculty and staff further assisted the artists by collecting short video interviews that gave descriptions of the history of Davidson County. The artists, along with the DCCC campus community, then painted larger than life interpretations of those messages onto two sites – The Uptown Lexington Center, located at 4 East 1st Ave. in Lexington, and The Thomasville Education Center, located at 305 Randolph St. in Thomasville.
The outcome of the murals was nothing short of remarkable. The artists intertwined their Caribbean flair into the art, leaving a vibrant and brilliant representation of Davidson County history and a vision toward the future.
The mural in Lexington depicts an old water tower located near downtown and includes a line of people walking up to a crumbling brick factory on the left side. The central image is of two hands. One hand is receiving, and the other hand is giving. On the right side, two women are depicted dancing, expressing joy and hope for the future. The image also is a parallel to the power of women.
The mural in Thomasville depicts the past with people working in textiles, tobacco and furniture. The future is represented through the figure at the top leaping through a computer screen to grasp a book. The hope for the future is in technology and education. The project was made possible through funding from a grant through the National Endowment for the Arts, and was started three years ago by Dr. LeAnne Disla, from the Global Leadership Institute and Duke University, as a “Stories through Murals” project with Durham Public Schools. This year, the project expanded to community colleges, and DCCC was selected as one of the partners.
Suzanne LaVenture, director of international education and instructor of Spanish who has been instrumental in the project, notes that a lot of teamwork was required to bring the project to completion.
“DCCC faculty, students and community members spent months gathering oral histories, then spent more time extracting the themes and ideas,” she says. “It’s an experience that I’ll always remember.”
LaVenture added that she speaks Spanish, and was able to communicate with the artists quite well, and learned about their individual motivation, style and personality. “It was truly amazing to watch how they collaborated,” she says.
“I can look at the mural and see the bits done by each individual and yet still be impressed by the cohesiveness of the mural as a whole.”
Members of both the Thomasville and Lexington communities also found the mural project to be rewarding and valuable. Joe Bennett, mayor of Thomasville, stopped by to visit the project throughout the week and presented the artists with a “City of Thomasville” pin.