Art is a human experience

Published 8:37 am Thursday, November 11, 2010

It’s been three years since the first Northampton County Community Arts Day was held.

If you’ve never been to this event, I have to say you’re missing something.

I have to admit I’m not fond of the word cultural arts because it kind of diminished the fact that art supersedes cultural, ethnic, race, gender and class divides. Simply put art can be found anywhere and it is wholly, and should be, a human experience.

On Saturday, at the Northampton County Cultural and Wellness Center just outside of Jackson you could see that human experience of art being shared and you could see those divides diminish.

The event is organized each year by the Northampton County Cultural Arts Committee, a 13-member team made up of county officials and community constituents, and funded in part by a grant made possible by the North Carolina Arts Council and local sponsors.

In addition to the event, the grant also provides for an artist in residence who works with school children in Northampton County Public Schools. This year, two local artists, Senora Lynch of Warrenton and Timothè Windstead of Weldon, provided that opportunity to the school children. Both of them seemed to have engaging personalities and if the students had as much fun as they did, the residency program was a success this year.

This year I was surprised to find out Northampton County only has two art teachers within the whole county. Those two art teachers work at Conway Middle School and Northampton County High School-East. Northeast Academy and KIPP Pride High do not have art teachers.

That fact was a little disturbing to me, but I realized it was something that was common throughout schools across the U.S. Art and music programs are always likely to get the axe when schools are strapped for funds simply because they are not part of the core tested subjects.

I agree, students need the basics like math, English and science, but they also need that creative outlet.

Many of the students in Northampton County never know about their creative edge until Community Arts Day brought them the opportunity.

And opportunity lacks not only in Northampton, but rural areas in general.  Rural life has always been rich with art, despite what urbanites might believe. Sure, metro areas are known to have their affluent artsy neighborhoods; New York has SoHo and Chelsea; Philadelphia has Center City and Avenue of the Arts; and Charlotte has NoDa.

The only difference between metro and rural areas is the lack of resources in the latter.

The ability to have such an event in Northampton County has always been present, but there has never been a community platform for artists alike to share their work. And there’s never been an occasion for young artists to bloom in their talents.

I hope next year you will take advantage of that human experience of art and see what Community Arts Day has to offer.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.