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Marketing & Communications

Posted on: April 6, 2021

Winston-Salem Portrait Project To Be Virtually Unveiled April 10

The Winston-Salem Portrait Project, a new installation of public art commissioned by the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Public Art Commission that comprises a sculpture downtown in Winston Square Park, eight murals throughout the city and a pop-up participant exhibition on view through the summer, will be virtually unveiled at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, April 10. The unveiling can be watched on WSTV Digital Media, on the city’s YouTube channel, on the city website or on the city’s Facebook page.

WSTV Digital Media is available on channel 13 on Spectrum or channel 99 on AT&T Uverse. To watch online, go to CityofWS.org and select the clapboard icon under the search box. There will be an option to watch live either through the website or YouTube. The unveiling will also stream on the city Facebook page, City of Winston-Salem, NC - Government.

The Public Art Commission, in a request for proposals issued in 2017, said it was seeking “a photographic portrayal of our community: a portrait made of our many faces, displayed where we come together and where we’re divided.… We hope this artwork will help us see each other and the places we inhabit more openly and increase our capacity for compassion.”

 Artists Kisha Bari and Jasmin Chang of New York City submitted the winning proposal and embarked on a three-year process that included a host committee of 32 city residents, representing each ward in Winston-Salem, to identify potential subjects for the sculpture.

Working together by wards, the host committee members spent five months reaching out to find people whose work in their communities show an important perspective of Winston-Salem, and whose stories should be shared and celebrated.

The 60 people selected to participate met in a series of workshops to engage with each other as a group, be paired with someone they didn’t know, get to know each other’s deeper story and learn how to photograph a meaningful portrait of one another. These portraits, along with artist statements, will be unveiled alongside the permanent sculpture in a temporary, outdoor exhibit in Winston Square Park.

The workshops concluded with Bari photographing a portrait of each new partnership that was formed through the workshops. Those images are featured on the downtown sculpture and the eight murals, one in each ward, designed by Bari and Chang.

Aaron Gibbons, a custom furniture maker with a woodworking and metalworking shop in King, fabricated the sculpture and the murals.

Bari is a photographer, activist, portrait artist and storyteller who works with marginalized communities to foster change through art, education and conversation. Chang is an artist and co-founder of Community Heroes, a community organizing and public art project highlighting everyday unsung heroes in New York City neighborhoods.

“We applaud the Public Art Commission for recognizing that public art could be a medium for building connections between Winston-Salem’s diverse populations,” Bari said.  “Our sculpture is designed to reflect this purpose by using stainless steel building blocks to create connections amongst the portraits and stories of the participants, while the mirrored steel panels reflect the changing city landscape and allow the viewer to see themselves as a part of the fabric and story of the city.”

Chang said, “We hope the project contributes to the work that local artists, activists and organizers have been doing, and that it can be a catalyst for continued bridge-building and conversation in Winston-Salem.”

More information about the project, including members of the host committee, the city residents who participated in the project, a map with the mural locations and more information about the artists and other members of the project team, will be posted at WSPortraitProject.com.

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