SALISBURY, N.C. – The Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Department of Art & Design has completed the first phase of installation for its “Here’s My Story” inclusive public art initiative with the placement of two large, interactive benches in Salisbury. The uniquely sculpted benches will be equipped with personal audio narratives from local citizens, with the goal of advancing diversity and inclusion awareness in the community.
Fabricators from Cricket Forge LLC of Durham joined faculty and staff from the Rowan-Cabarrus Department of Art & Design in December to install benches at Dixonville Cemetery, 210 Old Concord Rd., and the College’s North Campus, 1333 Jake Alexander Blvd. South.
The project is made possible by a $50,000 grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation as part of its statewide inclusive public art initiative. Rowan-Cabarrus is one of 10 recipients in the state and the only North Carolina community college to receive a portion of $500,000 in total grant funding.
“We are grateful to the many members of our community who have contributed to this project and made it a true collaboration,” said Dr. Carol S. Spalding, president of Rowan-Cabarrus. “By listening to others’ stories, we can understand one another better, experience personal growth, and elevate ourselves as a community.”
The large, S-curved benches will feature embedded audio narratives that allow local residents to share their experiences in their own words and highlight how racial, cultural and ethnic diversity makes communities stronger and more resilient.
Inspirational quotes taken from these personal stories have been inscribed into the benches. The bench located on the Rowan-Cabarrus campus features quotes from Salisbury City Councilwoman Tamara Sheffield and longtime Cleveland resident and proud U.S. veteran Michael Stringer. The bench located at Dixonville Cemetery features quotes from Rowan County resident and Salisbury Pride board member Jamie Wilkerson and Kiddieland Kindergarten teacher and administrator Timika Peterson.
The second phase of the project will launch in early 2021 and will include setup of the audio components and installation of the third bench. The site for the remaining bench is still under consideration and interested organizations or property owners may contact Art & Design Department Chair Jenn Selby at email@example.com or 704-798-5241. For information on how you can share your personal story, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are thrilled at the outpouring of interest and support for ‘Here’s My Story,’ and we look forward to officially opening these benches to the public,” Selby said. “We do ask the community wait to visit the benches until the official unveiling so that everyone can enjoy the complete experience.”
The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation has launched a microsite to share information about the public art sites across the state. In addition, UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina has worked to capture and document the projects as they unfold. A documentary is scheduled to air this year.