June 2022 Arts InFocus

JUNE 2022

Each month, ArtsGreensboro brings you stories about artists, arts organizations, and individuals whose lives are infused with creativity. Join us in celebrating our vibrant city.

Ashley Virginia playing the piano and singing on stage

My name is Ashley Virginia, and I am a singer-songwriter, vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, event and content producer, and in the most general sense, an Artist. I started playing and performing music at age five and songwriting at age 13. Writing music and being creative are therapeutic for me. It helps me process living in a society that supports profit and individuality over collective wellness and healing. Creativity is why I get out of bed every day and what gives my existence meaning.

I’ve lived in Greensboro since 2014, and the community here has played a huge role in shaping me as a person and an artist. I got my start performing in Greensboro at the underground college house shows scene and the local open mic scene. My first gig playing my original music was in 2018 at Ben & Jerry’s in Friendly Center, and I was paid in ice cream. It’s really cool to reflect on the artistic growth I have made and the communities where I have found solace since then.

I’m currently in post-production for my second album, “The Colors in My Dreams.” The creation of the album was supported by grant funding from Arts Greensboro. At the beginning of April, I, along with a long list of musicians and collaborators, was able to go away for eight whole days to record the album at a farmhouse in Glendon, North Carolina. This recording process was really spectacular because we were completely immersed in the creative process, free from the distractions of daily life. I had the whole process documented by a videographer so I can release a short film along with the album. I have not yet set a date for release, but am aiming for late fall/early winter. I am very proud of the work we have created, and these songs are some of my favorites that I’ve written.

In the meantime, you can catch me weekly from 3-5 pm at Oden Brewery as the host of “What the Folk – Songwriter Sessions”, or visit my website to see my full calendar.

older adults holding up their paintings

Creative Aging Network-NC’s (CAN-NC) mission is to provide innovative arts programming and education to enhance older adults’ well-being and social connection throughout NC. Our campus serves as a site for intergenerational and multicultural engagement, collaboration, and education. Our vision is that CAN-NC will serve as a national model by inspiring and facilitating healthy aging through lifelong access to and participation in the creative arts.

Creative expression is a fundamental human need that releases dopamine, reduces anxiety and stress, and can alleviate challenges associated with chronic disease. We believe that there is a creative talent within every person waiting to be released. Once triggered, it inspires inquiry and learning and promotes a sense of meaning and purpose. Research shows that older people who engage in professionally conducted arts programs take less medication, have fewer falls and doctor visits, and experience decreased loneliness, improved mood, and better overall health. Even those with no prior experience can reap the powerful benefits of art-making.

When you work with CAN-NC, you receive state of the art, innovative programs backed by research. Hands-on creative and wellness experiences led by professionally trained teaching artists. Personalized programs tailored for the location and ability of participants. And proven health benefits so your residents maintain their functional level longer.

Our building houses our offices, 22 artist studios, a virtual classroom, a traditional classroom, a full kitchen, a meeting room and two large gathering spaces.

We currently have art by CAN-NC artist Veronica Grossi on view in our lobby and the Elder Arts Initiative Art Exhibition showcasing art by the residents at the aging services sites we work within North Carolina through June.

To learn more, visit can-nc.org or contact executive director, Lia Miller, at lia@can-nc.org or (336) 303-9963.

Juneteenth has a rich history in the African American community. During the Civil War, the emancipation of enslaved people did not come on one specific date. For enslaved people in Texas, they were one of the last groups to be freed.

On “Freedom’s Eve,” or the eve of January 1, 1863, the first Watch Night services took place. On that night, enslaved and free African Americans gathered across the country awaiting news that the Emancipation Proclamation had taken effect. At midnight, all enslaved people in the Confederate States were declared legally free. Union soldiers, many of whom were black, marched onto plantations and across cities in the South, spreading the news of freedom in the Confederate States. Even though the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863, it could not be implemented in places still under Confederate control. As a result, in the westernmost Confederate state of Texas, enslaved people would not be freed until much later. Freedom finally came on June 19, 1865, when some 2,000 Union troops arrived in Galveston Bay, Texas. The army announced that more than 250,000 enslaved black people in the state were free by executive decree. This day came to be known as “Juneteenth,” by the newly freed people in Texas.

Following the end of slavery in Texas, many African Americans held celebrations proclaiming their freedom. Today, Juneteenth is widely recognized and celebrated nationwide in 47 states and the District of Columbia. The Greensboro City Council unanimously approved Juneteenth as a paid holiday for city employees in 2021. Celebrate Juneteenth 2022 in Greensboro with a weekend of festivities.

The Juneteenth GSO Fest is Greensboro’s most accessible festival highlighting the celebration of freedom and Black Culture over a series of events taking place June 16 – 19 throughout the city of Greensboro. Click here for event updates.

ArtsGreensboro presented local Guilford County healthcare and emergency services employees with a commissioned poem commemorating their hard work and perseverance throughout the pandemic. Poet Lavinia C. Jackson, an ArtsGreensboro grantee, wrote the poem “Your Presence is a Gift” specifically for Greensboro’s healthcare heroes. Over 13,000 Cone Health employees, Metro 911 dispatchers and Guilford County EMS first responders will receive a personal copy of the poem. On May 12, ArtsGreensboro President and CEO Laura Way presented each organization with a framed copy of the poem and a video of the poet reciting her work.

“The arts have the power to heal,” says Way when asked why she decided to honor local healthcare heroes. “The strain of the ongoing pandemic has made everything more difficult, but these workers never gave up on the community.” Way believes that the poem is a written expression of gratitude for employees who are not thanked enough. The poem is wallet-sized so that the healthcare employees can carry the poem with them throughout their shifts.

“Art of all forms can help us heal, whether from illness or stress,” Cone Health VP & Chief Philanthropy Officer Michelle Schneider says. “The Cone Health team is grateful for the continued support we receive from the community, and this poem is a meaningful reminder of their gratitude. We are thankful to Lavinia Jackson for her creativity and to Arts Greensboro for the many ways they partner with us to make art a part of the Cone Health experience.”

“At Guilford Metro 911, we are so appreciative when our community recognizes our first, first responders in such a kind way,” says Melanie Neal, executive director of Metro 911. “We are the heart of public safety responses in Greensboro and Guilford County, and rarely get recognized, so thank you to ArtsGreensboro for doing so!”

ArtsGreensboro serves the greater Greensboro area by providing necessary funding and support to local artists and arts organizations. Donations to the ArtsFund make projects like these possible, enabling ArtsGreensboro to share art with the community.

Our Art Stories

ArtsGreensboro Summer Interns

Graysen Shirley, Elon University ’24

My journey with photography began when I signed up for an art class on a whim during my senior year of high school. My parents had gotten me a film camera for Christmas, and I was ecstatic to use it to capture unique and exciting moments. At the time, I was intimidated by the camera and its many gears, buttons, and functions. Instead of letting my fears and doubts overwhelm me, I discovered how the camera could become an extension of myself and be used to inspire others.

While in college, I have been able to continue exploring my passion for photography as a staff photographer for my college’s newspaper. I have captured moments of students, faculty, staff, and events on campus and have taken photos for feature stories. One of my favorite moments I have been able to capture was the Holi Celebration, where students threw colored powder in the air to celebrate the coming of spring. Getting to see the students’ excitement and joy for the event through the photos I captured was powerful to me. I hope to continue to explore my passions for art and communications and to inspire others by sharing my talents with them.

Rabia Kang, Emory University ’24

I have been told that as a young kid I had already demonstrated an affinity for drawing – i.e., bleeding out my pre-school’s markers via my non-stop doodling. Since then, I’ve engaged in the visual arts, whether it be taking private lessons, participating in shows and contests, or simply drawing for fun. I also expanded to the performing arts and played the piano and cello recreationally before taking dance lessons and engaging in theater productions in college. Art has allowed me to grow and develop myself and how I navigate the world in a way like no other, and it truly brings me inner joy that I hope to spread to others. I also love going to galleries, shows, and concerts because it is so inspirational to see the works of other creatives that can inform my own creative processes. As a college student double majoring in business and art, I hope to become involved with the arts administration field and improve the awareness, accessibility, and enjoyment of the arts community and beyond!