Tag: North Carolina

How to Build a Home

How to Build a Home

Cici Cheng

This photo essay presents the moments and changes that the artist and her family have experienced during the modification of their very first home in the United States. It is based on the artist's exploration of cultural identity and understanding of what home means to a person. Having arrived to the United States as a child and adjusted to a new culture and community, the artist reflects on her immigrant parents finally being on the path to achieving the American Dream, the contrast of living in two different cultures, and discovering her identity and place.

A Symbolic Project

A Symbolic Project

Burak Erdim

This introductory essay frames the theme of the Built/Unbuilt Issue of Southern Cultures by bringing attention to the incomplete and unrealized aspects of seemingly ordinary landscapes of the New South. Confronting the unusual form of Dorton Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina, the essay defamiliarizes this popular site through an exploration of its broader social, economic, and artistic aims. Built in the aftermath of the Great Depression and World War II, state-owned Dorton and the fairgrounds were one of the pioneering manifestations of a new regional development paradigm that sought to battle social and economic fragmentation and the rise of fascism in industrial societies. The essay traces the ambivalent reception of these technologies of development that resulted in their incomplete implementation and misuse, as in the case of cars and racialized suburban sprawl. Indicative of many of the projects examined in the issue, these incomplete sites have now become ordinary parts of the American South.

Living, Being, and Doing

Living, Being, and Doing

Lisa McCarty

Over the course of eight years while living in North Carolina, photographer Lisa McCarty visited Lake Eden, former home of the renowned experimental art school Black Mountain College. McCarty writes, "My motivation was never to repeat what the original students made, and I never expected to see exactly what they saw. However, I did want to feel something of what they felt, to be a part of natureculture. When I go to Lake Eden with my camera, I can, and I do. I become sensitive to everything." Between 1933 and 1957, Black Mountain's roster included Josef Albers, Anni Albers, Ruth Asawa, John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Buckminster Fuller, Elaine de Kooning, Willem de Kooning, Gwendolyn Lawrence, Jacob Lawrence, Barbara Morgan, Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly, Susan Weil, and Marion Post Wolcott. Many of these artists are now part of the canon of American art and literature, and it is often the knowledge that many of them lived and worked together in the same place that sparks curiosity about the school. But despite the visceral effect of this specific place on a wide range of students, faculty, and even the subsequent admirers of the school that tour Lake Eden today, the importance of environmental stewardship and reverence at the College are often footnotes in its history.

Soul Clap

Soul Clap

Michelle Lanier, with illustrations by Ginnie Hsu

The question is: How do I render sound visible? For me, the answer is ethnopoetics, a mode of presenting performance, ritual, and cultural expression through the tools of poetry. In its possibilities for mirroring moments, and reflecting the spaciousness and impact of tone and silence and sound, the form seeks freedom from the strictures of prose. This is an ethnopoetic journey that invites rhythmic reading—listening with the eyes.

In Search of Maudell Sleet’s Garden

In Search of Maudell Sleet’s Garden

Glenda Gilmore

Art offers an archive that documents the environmental past. As cities grew quickly in the New South at the start of the twentieth century, women established urban gardens that provided self-sufficiency and meager profits for their households. Urban planners and zoning eliminated most of these opportunities by the late 1930s. The artist Romare Bearden, born in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1911, recalled in his art the beauty of urban gardens among African American homes. This article considers those gardening practices through two Bearden collages centered on the unknown gardener Maudell Sleet and chronicles how cities changed with the demise of urban gardening.

Quicker than Coal Ash

Quicker than Coal Ash

photos by Will Warasila, introduced by Anne Branigin

The people of Walnut Cove, North Carolina, live in the shadow of Duke Energy’s Belews Creek Steam Station, where toxic coal ash is kept in a massive unlined storage pond, and toxins are pumped into the air, water, and soil. “Quicker than Coal Ash” depicts the slow violence of coal ash and its effect on the residents, the landscape, and the structures of energy and power. The harm done to the land and its residents is invisible. Nevertheless, this series of photographs attempts to address that harm. Anne Branigin’s introduction to these photos explores the history of coal ash in North Carolina, connecting it to broader environmental justice struggles across the United States. Walnut Cove is far from alone. But despite the massive amount of coal ash the United States produces each year, not enough is known about the health impacts on neighboring communities, also known as “sacrifice zones” or “fenceline communities.” Often, the residents of these areas are politically and socially marginalized: people of color, economically disadvantaged, and too often ignored.

Mulberry Season Again

Mulberry Season Again

Lisa Sorg, with illustrations by Kristen Solecki

This essay reflects nature’s importance in coping with the isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The economic shutdown and public health crisis inspired many people to reconnect with the natural world, which is also in turmoil because of climate change. The essay explores the circles of life and death through a bountiful mulberry tree that grows in Maplewood Cemetery in Durham, North Carolina, near the grave of Leon Jeffers.

Snapshot: Jean Hooper, 2018

Snapshot: Jean Hooper, 2018

Justin Cook

For this short “Snapshot” feature, photographers selected one of their photographs and wrote a short reflection on what it shows us about the ever-shifting relationship between people and place in the South.

Looking for Bigfoot

Looking for Bigfoot

Cassandra Klos
“To Live and Thrive on New Earths”

“To Live and Thrive on New Earths”

Danielle M. Purifoy, photos by Jade Wilson
Escape-Bound

Escape-Bound

Barbara Sostaita
Riverwalk

Riverwalk

Holden Richards