Public Art By Artists of Color

Celebrating artists and their work that tells stories and adds vibrancy to Charlotte-Mecklenburg's public art collection.

Walk Together Children (2019) by Nellie AshfordArts & Science Council

Nellie Ashford

A “self-taught folk artist” whose work is rooted in memories of life as experienced by Charlotte’s African-American community during the era of “Jim Crow” racial segregation in the American South, Ashford’s work incorporates a mix of materials that often depict actual real-life events and remembrances, individuals and communities with vibrant detail and emotion. 

Walk Together Children (2019) by Nellie AshfordArts & Science Council

This piece celebrates children as our future while connecting to the Charlotte of yesteryear, from old shotgun houses to an abundance of greenspace and wildlife.

Honoring All Teachers (2019) by Nellie AshfordArts & Science Council

Much of the cloth used to dress the people in Ashford's work reflects real-life experiences.

Go Tigers & We Too Shall Rise (2019) by Tommie RobinsonArts & Science Council

Tommie Robinson

A native North Carolinian, noted painter Tommie Robinson is largely self-taught. His work has been featured in newspapers and magazines such as Art News and Watercolor Magazine. He has been commissioned for both corporate and public artworks, some of which are located in Charlotte, at the Adams Service Center, West Boulevard Branch Library, and Charlotte-Mecklenburg ABC Board offices.

Go Tigers! (2019) by Tommie RobinsonArts & Science Council

This piece captures the spirit and tenacity students demonstrated while participating in sports and cultural activities.

We Too Shall Rise (2019) by Tommie RobinsonArts & Science Council

This piece calls out Charlotte neighborhoods that were central to black life before and after the razing of Brooklyn. It also highlights the hard work and accomplishments of Second Ward students.

Go Tigers & We Too Shall Rise (2018) by Tommie RobinsonArts & Science Council

These two pieces honor Second Ward High School - the first public high school for Blacks in Charlotte.

Commerce (2005) by Tommie Robinson.Arts & Science Council

Robinson's mural, found inside the uptown arena, represents Charlotte’s trade and business history.

Transportation by Tommie RobinsonArts & Science Council

Robinson's mural, found inside the uptown arena, is reflective of the evolution of public transportation in Charlotte.

Nico Amortegui by Nancy PierceArts & Science Council

Nico Amortegui

Born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, Nico Amortegui has lived and worked in the United States since the late 1990s. His current artistic foci include large-scale paintings on canvas or wood panels, sculpting and wood-working with found objects.  His work is often full of unapologetic color and is a direct product of his expressed energy.

Queen of the Catawba (2019) by Nico AmorteguiArts & Science Council

This piece cherishes those that came way before us while embracing residents rooted here for generations just as much as the city’s many transplants.

We are All on the Same Plane by Nico Amortegui and 2019Arts & Science Council

This mural depicts a mermaid, which Amortegui says represents a mother and the city, which gives new life to its residents.

Michele Tejuola Turner (2020) by Bernie PetitArts & Science Council

Michele Tejuola Turner

In 1979, an advertising career move to Atlanta gave Michele Tejuola Turner a new awareness of African culture that was flourishing throughout the city. Those African cultural experiences began to mold her new outlook on life and art through African history, Griot storytelling, African drumming and dancing, African crafts, and performing artists.

Community (Front side) by Tejuola TurnerArts & Science Council

This piece honors Torrence-Lytle School, the first high school for African-Americans in North Mecklenburg County in the subcommunity of Pottstown in Huntersville.

Community (Close Up) by Tejuola TurnerArts & Science Council

Cotton leaves, flowing water, antique desks and chairs, the school’s trojan mascot and farm houses that were significant to Pottstown and the school are featured.

Community (2019) by Michele Tejuola TurnerArts & Science Council

This piece entwines with the fabric of the community, creating a compelling dialogue between past, present and future generations for years to come.

Community by Tejuola TurnerArts & Science Council

In 1957, the school added on the Waymer Gym as well as a science lab, additional classrooms and home economics and shop classes. The school closed in 1966, but the gym served as a recreation center for the community for more than 50 years

Gather Together (2004) by Michele Tejuola TurnerArts & Science Council

Turner celebrates the rich legacy of Historic West End, its community bonds and the important role education plays among its individuals and the neighborhood.

Gather Together (2004) by Michele Tejuola TurnerArts & Science Council

A welcome sign to Historic West End - home to Johnson C. Smith University, an HBCU, and African-American neighborhoods.

Gather Together (2004)Arts & Science Council

Turner used African inspired symbols to portray a deep sense of history and neighborhood - like this seat in the style of an African drum.

Gather Together (2004) by Michele Tejuola TurnerArts & Science Council

This bird house pays homage to the bungalow houses in the Wesley Heights neighborhood.

Sight Unseen Installation - Po Shu Wang (horizontal)Arts & Science Council

Po Shu Wang

Po Shu Wang is a visual artist born in Hong Kong, and educated in Rome, Italy. He creates site-specific work under the name Living Lenses in collaboration with his wife, Louise Bertelsen, who died in 2013. Their public artworks are, in their own words, "focused on harnessing the dynamic energy of the project site encountered, to directly fuel the artwork.” Their artworks are created as tangible mechanisms, through which the public can explore hidden aspects of their environment, while they can also actively evolve the content of the artwork.”

Sight Unseen (2012) by Po Shu Wang and Louise BertelsenArts & Science Council

Accessible to the sight-impaired, the art features a modified music box which plays Braille letters on a music staff to create notes. When the music box is moved, visitors experience a unique music.

ASC Public Art: Sight Unseen at Midtown Park on the Little Sugar Creek Greenway (2012) by ASCArts & Science Council

John T BiggersArts & Science Council

Jim Biggers

Born in Gaston, NC, much of Jim Biggers' art reflects his African heritage, working in a variety of media, with special emphasis on painting, drawing and monoprints. His later work derived from his interests in mythology and sacred geometry, which is the study of the connection between symbolic meanings in nature’s geometric shapes.

Celebration (1995) by Jim BiggersArts & Science Council

This piece celebrates the City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County.

Celebration (1995) by Jim BiggersArts & Science Council

Geometric shapes were a staple in Biggers' work.

Celebration (1995) by Jim BiggersArts & Science Council

This piece includes Spirit Square Center for Arts & Education.

Celebration (1995) by Jim BiggersArts & Science Council

The Hornet's Next sits in the city's crown.

Celebration (1995) by Jim BiggersArts & Science Council

This piece included Little Rock A.M.E. Zion Church, once home to the Afro-American Cultural Center.

jackie changArts & Science Council

Jackie Chang

Jackie Chang (American, b. 1963, Taiwan) lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.  She is most noted for her public art works.  Chang has completed a number of permanent and temporary art projects around the nation. Roberta Smith, New York Times  arts critic, recently called Chang's art project for a New York subway station as "exceptional public art." 

Was/Am/Will Be (2009) by Jackie ChangArts & Science Council

The facility is designed for male youthful offenders ages 16 and 17 awaiting trial or sentencing. Chang specifically placed the artwork where every young offender will be able to see it.

Was/Am/Will Be (2009) by Jackie ChangArts & Science Council

After spending time with the men in the facility, Chang wanted the work to reflect the passing of time, the possibility of growth, a sense of the individual as part of greater whole.

Was/Am/Will Be (2009) by Jackie ChangArts & Science Council

She used glass as a contrast to the other surfaces and materials found in the cell pods which were very sturdy and hard. The glass panels mimic windows, dividers between the outside and the inside.

David WilsonArts & Science Council

David Wilson

Durham-based   public   artist,  David   Wilson,   was   born   and   raised   in   Clarksburg,   WV,   and  earned  his  BFA  from  Hampton  University.  While at Hampton,  he  received  tutelage  in  the  creation  of  public  art  under  John  Biggers  and  Africobra  artist,  James  Philips.  A  primary driver  in  his  public  works  is  creation  for  interpretation  by  all  with  an  overall  goal to foster introspection, communication, and provide a platform for education. Wilson   employs   his   background   in  design, sculpture,   and   public   art,   to   create   site-specific  work  that  explores  the  social,  historical,  and  functional  context  of  the  site, as well as the architectural and urban phenomology of the space. 

J Stacy UtleyArts & Science Council

J Stacy Utley

Born on Lakenheath Airforce Base in Suffolk, England, and raised in Raleigh North Carolina, J Stacy Utley is a practicing artist who resides in Charlotte North Carolina. Utley’s work addresses complex narratives found within the African American diaspora. Using diverse mediums, his collages, assemblages, paintings and drawings address the topics of displacement, cultural appropriation, religion, race, mental illness and sexuality. Conversant topics of the African American community that shape identities and not always comfortable to discuss. 

Prospect of a City (2019) by David Wilson & Stacy UtleyArts & Science Council

This piece honors Charlotte’s Belmont, Villa Heights, and Optimist Park neighborhoods. The power-coated steel frame housing the glass art represents the layout of the streets in the neighborhood and highlights the importance of the streetcar tracks and looms that powered the textile mills. The glass contrasts the steel in strength and opacity, reflecting the diverse suburban neighborhoods, and serving as a welcoming centerpiece celebrating the history of the community.

Chandra CoxArts & Science Council

 Chandra Cox

Chandra Cox is a practicing artist, image-maker who works in a range of mediums from oil, acrylic to digital media. Her work has been presented in numerous museums and galleries around the country such as the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh and the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. Her artworks in public collections include NC State University, North Carolina Central University and the University Of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Protect and Lift Up the People (2009) by Chandra CoxArts & Science Council

The light lantern sculptures flank the entry steps to the Beatties Ford Road Metro Police station.

Protect and Lift Up the People (2009) by Chandra CoxArts & Science Council

A figure with raised arms is repeated over the entire surface symbolizing the role of community members who must lift each other up to strengthen the greater whole.

Protect and Lift Up the People (2009) by Chandra CoxArts & Science Council

The light lanterns follow green design standards and use energy efficient LED lights.

TJ ReddyArts & Science Council

TJ Reddy

A native of Savannah, Ga.,  Reddy was an artist, poet, activist and musician whose mixed-media paintings combined acrylics with natural materials including paper, wood and fabric.  He co-founded  Black Student Union and the African and Afro-American Studies Department at UNC Charlotte. “I am a being whose connection is associated with my ancestry — an African origin,” he told Qcitymetro.com. “My blackness, my African-ness, my color is infused in every pore of my being. The source of the art comes from me.”

Brooklyn and Blue Heaven, Remembrances of Charlotte’s Second Ward (1995) by TJ ReddyArts & Science Council

This piece honors "Brooklyn" an African-American neighborhood located in 2nd Ward that was demolished in the name of "urban renewal." Blue Haven was an adjacent neighborhood.

juan loganArts & Science Council

Juan Logan

Born in Nashville, Tennessee, Juan Logan now lives and works in Belmont, North Carolina. Logan’s artworks address subjects relevant to the American experience. At once abstract and representational, his paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, and videos address the interconnections of race, place, and power. They make visible how hierarchical relations and social stereotypes shape individuals, institutions, and the material and mental landscapes of contemporary life.

I've Know Rivers (1995) by Juan LoganArts & Science Council

This mural emphasizes education and that the schools aren’t the only places for one to acquire wisdom and knowledge – churches, family, history.

Richard HuntArts & Science Council

Richard Hunt

Chicago artist Richard Hunt is one of the most important sculptors of our time.  He shares the distinction with his friend, the late Romare Bearden of being the first two African-American artists to have solo exhibitions at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1971.

Spiral Odyssey (2017) by Richard HuntArts & Science Council

“The ‘Odyssey’ in the title refers to Romare Bearden’s series of works that took Homer’s epic poem as a point of inspiration and departure,” Hunt said in his artist statement.

Spiral Odyssey by Richard HuntArts & Science Council

“‘Spiral’ has multiple associations. One was Bearden’s pivotal role in the joining together of Black artists in '63 to share ideas on arts activism in the context of the Civil Rights Movement, the complexities of career development and the art of politics.

Credits: Story

"Go, Tigers!" & "We Too, Shall Rise" photos by Jon Strayhorn

"Gather Together" photos by Mitchell Kearney

"Sight Unseen" video by Aaron Fiedler

"Spiral Odyssey" photos by Nancy Pierce

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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