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The Market House Is More Than a City Symbol, It’s a Reminder PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Janice Burton   
Monday, 20 July 2015
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World War II was one of the darkest periods in human history. Upon his rise to power in February 1933, Adolf Hitler and the ruling Nazi party began building the first of the Holocaust concentration camps. The original camps housed and tortured around 45,000 political prisoners and union officials by the end of that first year. Hitler turned over control of these camps to Heinrich Himmler and the SS in 1934, instructing them to purge Germany of those people he thought were racially undesirable. In addition to the political prisoners, these groups included criminals, homosexuals, Gypsies and Jews.

Here, millions of people were held, tortured and murdered including more than 6.25 million Jews. Although the Nazis attempted to cover up these atrocities by destroying the camps, seven stand at least partially preserved as museums. 

Why? Why do places of such horror and inhumanity remain standing today? Why are they visited by thousands of people annually. Why is their evil allowed to continue on this earth? Why, at the end of the war, were they not plowed under, the ground consecrated? Because with all that is going on in the world today, they stand both as witnesses to the atrocities of what man can do to his fellow man, but also as sobering reminders of the horrors that can befall us when evil is left unchecked.

Just as the Concentration Camps speak to the evil of the Holocaust, hundreds of battlefields across the North and the South speak to the evil that gripped the United States during the Civil War and the evil that allowed men to enslave their fellow man. In the Cape Fear Region, a number of battlefields attest to the horror of that time. In Fayetteville, the skeletal remains of the Arsenal tell that story as well. And, in the center of Hay Street, the Market House stands sentinel — over our city. It has thousands of stories to tell, all of which are important and historic — one of which is indeed tied to slavery.

The original building which stood where the Market House now stands was constructed in 1788. It was one of many birthplaces of freedom in this nation. In 1789, it was the site where the North Carolina assembly ratified the Constitution. Later, it was the place where the first university in the new nation was chartered, bringing higher education to the new land, and it was the place where North Carolina ceded the lands to the west to form the state of Tennessee. Up until 1793, it was one of the seats of government for the state. In fact, the building was first constructed as a means of securing Fayetteville as the state capital, which didn’t work. 

According to Bruce Daws, the city historian, the old State House served as government offices and as a market until the fire of 1831, which burned much of the city. At that time, the current building was erected. It is “one of the few structures in America that employs the town hall-market scheme found in England. Meat and produce were sold under the open first-floor arcade while the second floor served as the town hall and general meeting place. It served as a town market until 1906, and as Fayetteville Town Hall until 1907. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1973.”

The Market House was not at any point in its history a slave market. According to Daws, slaves were infrequently sold there as part of estate liquidations. The actual slave market was in front of the court house, which was located at the intersection of Green and Ramsey/Rowan and Grove. Slaves were also sold by slave dealers who had businesses along the market square. And, in fact, the slaves were not sold in the Market House proper, but rather in the town square, which surrounded the Market House and is now the traffic circle.

Through preservation efforts by a group of Fayetteville women at the turn of the century, the Market House was preserved and became a library when its use as a seat of government was complete. It has also served as the Chamber of Commerce, and art museum, the Fayetteville Partnership and today as an annex to The Fayetteville Area Transportation and Local History Museum.

Daws said there has been no attempt by anyone to try and hide the history of the Market House, including its relationship to the slave trade. Instead, a marker is installed on the building that honors the memory of individuals “sold as slaves at this place.” Additionally, part of the permanent exhibit at the Market House deals with slavery in the community and its impact. 

Daws notes that history is history. It can’t be changed. It can’t be undone. It can be remembered and it can be used to remind us of what we were and what we should never be again. Daws sees the trend to disassociate or get rid of historical reminders of our past as an easy way out. 

“There are a lot of stories associated with the Market House, one of which deals with slavery,” he said, noting that it is important to keep those stories alive because they are a part of our collective history.

The Market House narrative is not finished yet. Will the Fayetteville City Council remove it as a symbol of the city? That’s a decision that should be made carefully, and in light of not only its past, but also in light of its present day reality. 

In May, hundreds of Cumberland County residents gathered around the Market House to pray for the community as part of the As One Prayer Walk. The prayers, led by African-American ministers, occurred on the Market House steps, where one minister recalled the sale of slaves, but pointed instead to the gathering of the community as one. He told a story of the city’s past, and its future.

On 4th Friday, drum circles play underneath the arches and citizens of all colors enjoy the music and dance — together. 

During the International Festival the Parade of Nations flows around it, bringing together our community, which is comprised of people all over
the globe. 

In Fayetteville, the Market House has become a gathering  place. A place where people of all walks of life, of all colors and nationalities gather to share their experiences and their lives. It is a place where education occurs and where history is not only honored, but is told honestly. 

Is Fayetteville a community that will fall prey to political correctness and fail to remember and to maintain its collective history — both the good and the bad? 

Last Updated ( Monday, 20 July 2015 )
 
Remember When: The Works of Leslie Pearson on Exhibit at Gallery 208 PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Soni Martin   
Tuesday, 07 July 2015
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Fayetteville supporters of the arts were introduced to a large body of work by mixed-media artist Leslie Pearson last year when Fayetteville Technical Community College invited Pearson for a one-person show, Works of Spirit. I was immediately enthralled while walking among sepia-stained representational images on yards of see-through fabric suspended from the ceiling. Also included was a separate work of suspended orb-like forms. It was apparent Pearson has a gift for combining tangible physicality with the intangibility of something remembered. 

If you missed her exhibit last year, on July 14, visitors to Gallery 208, at the corporate offices of Up and Coming Weekly,  can view a new body of work by Pearson titled Remember When and also meet Pearson. For this exhibit Pearson has selected mixed-media encaustic paintings and small sculptural book forms. Never descriptive or decorative, Pearson has an exceptional talent for conjuring remembrances by layering meaning through medium and image, medium and object. 

Pearson is interested in stories, memories and the communicative power of material. Her statement clarifies meaning and process for visitors to the exhibit: “For the showing at Gallery 208, I’ve gone back to what I’m interested in — the history of things and stories. I treasure all the family photos and ephemera that have been passed down to me. I’ve gone back to these items as a starting point for many of the pieces that I am exhibiting. Conceptually, my work revolves around themes of memory and identity formation but visually I’m inspired by the natural world, particularly the effects of time on the environment. For example, I’m always drawn to aged and eroded objects, old buildings, and walls with peeling paint. I often go for walks and take pictures of things other people might not notice; I use these as references for some of the colors and textures that come out in my paintings.”

Two encaustic paintings in the exhibit, “Siblings” and “A Story Unfolds,” exemplify ways in which Pearson intentionally obscures her narratives. In “Siblings,’ Pearson breaks the pictorial space into units; two portraits are presented in dissimilar ranges of closeness, vertical bands are filled with text, the layers of encaustic medium blurring the surface. Viewers are left to look closely to decipher ethereal meaning through the layers of beeswax on the surface.

In comparison, a solitary woman is present in the work titled “A Story Unfolds.” The woman is balanced in the picture plane by large negative shapes and limited amount of blurred text — she is located in an abstracted environment. Pearson obscures the woman in a manner which results in the figure becoming more abstracted than in other images in the exhibit; the figure becomes part of the abstracted space around her. 

Visitors to the Gallery 208 opening will get to meet Pearson and hear her briefly talk about her work. A well-traveled individual, she recently moved to the Fayetteville area, is a prolific artist who exhibits nationally and internationally, is an arts educator and an arts advocate. Her achievements are lengthy, highlights of which signify the magnitude of her art experiences and give insight to the talent of an artist who lives in the area. 

Some of Pearson’s educational and professional experiences include earning a bachelor’s in fine art from Southeast Missouri State University in 1998. There, she was heavily involved in community-arts programming as the Assistant Director of the Arts Council of Southeast Missouri and co-curator of Gallery 100 and the Lorimier Gallery in Cape Girardeau. She earned a master’s in museum studies at Newcastle University in England in 2000 and completed an internship at the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art in Sunderland, United Kingdom. In 2011, she earned an MFA in textile design at East Carolina University’s School of Art and Design in Greenville, North Carolina, where she taught textile classes and worked as a studio assistant in the textile department.

Her teaching experience is too long to list, yet her most recent experiences include workshop instructor/lecturer for Integumentary Experiments in Fiber in Australia and the guest artist to create wire sculpture in Wilmington, North Carolina. Two residencies include No Boundaries International Art Colony on Bald Head Island, North Carolina, in 2014, and Arrowmont Pentaculum: Five Medias, One Forum at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in 2015. 

From an extensive list, Pearson’s most recent solo exhibitions in North Carolina include Works of Spirit at Fayetteville Technical Community College Art Gallery in 2014; The Visual Word at Waterworks Visual Arts Center in Salisbury; Continuum at the Page Walker Arts Center in Cary; and Speak, Memory, a mixed-media installation at the Hanover Gallery in Wilmington.

Gallery 208 is committed to hosting exhibitions by inventive and professional artists who enrich the visual art landscape locally and regionally. The exhibit, Remember When, introduces a “multimedia artist who utilizes many fiber based materials, processes and techniques to create sculptures, installations, encaustic paintings and handmade books in which she explores themes of memory and identity.” The public is invited to attend the opening reception and meet the artist on July 14 at Gallery 208 between 5:30–7 p.m. For those who cannot attend the opening, the exhibit will remain up through early September 2015. Before or after attending the opening or exhibit, Pearson’s work can be viewed on her website: www.lesliekpearson.com/

Gallery 208 is located at 208 Rowan Street. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., Monday –Friday. For information on this exhibit, call 910-484-6200 or visit the website to read the digital version of the magazine at www.upandcomingweekly.com.

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 07 July 2015 )
 

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