Winston-Salem State University’s (WSSU) Diggs Gallery celebrated its 20th anniversary on October 15, with an evening of art, dinner, jazz and poetry.
Hosted by Chancellor Donald J. Reaves and Dr. Deborah R. Reaves, the reception began at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner and a program. Former artists who have been featured in past Diggs Gallery exhibitions were in attendance.
“Have Art, Will Travel – Remembering The Past, Investing In The Future,” was the theme for this 20th anniversary celebration. Attendees traveled through time with a festive tour through Diggs Gallery by costumed actors from WSSU’s Drama Department. Pride and Dignity from the Hill: A Celebration of the Historic Happy Hill Community, an art exhibit inspired by Winston-Salem’s oldest African American Community, was also on view. This exhibition pays homage to the struggle and progress of all African Americans through a vibrant interplay of stories and family photos from Happy Hill intermixed with important works by nationally celebrated artists.
The Joe Robinson Quartet provided the jazz. Robinson, who grew up in the Happy Hill Community himself, has captivated audiences with his music for 40 years and is recognized as a musical pioneer. James Funches, who also grew up in Happy Hill and is a visual artist as well as an accomplished saxophonist, also performed. Several local poets performed their works to round out the evening. A skit closed the evening’s festivities.
“Diggs is a cultural meeting place where tens of thousands have been inspired over the years,” said Belinda Tate, director of the gallery. “We invited the community to come out and take part in this very special, one-time celebration. It was not only for arts patrons, but for all of us who believe that art can bridge cultures and broaden our understanding of the world around us.”
Diggs Gallery, one of the South’s leading showcases dedicated to African and African-American art, is located on the lower level of the O’Kelly Library on the campus of Winston-Salem State University, 601 South Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Winston-Salem, N.C. The gallery is a major cultural center at Winston-Salem State and offers one of the largest exhibition spaces dedicated to the arts of African and the African Diaspora in North Carolina. In 2007, the gallery was identified as one of the top 10 African-American galleries in the nation. For more information visit the website: www.wssu.edu/diggs