StepN2theArtZ on Oct. 17

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A group of professional artists from the Dominican Republic will provide the centerpiece for Piedmont Community College’s (PCC) sixth annual StepN2theArtZ next week. The event will be held Wednesday, Oct. 17, on PCC’s Person County Campus from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. and will focus on arts, music, dance and literature from the Dominican Republic and Haiti, the island countries of Hispaniola.

The Dominican artists will paint murals depicting the stories of PCC and its Person County heritage on two exterior walls of a campus building, visible from the College’s Courtyard. PCC students will assist in the project, which is expected to be completed on Oct. 17. The artists belong to a group known as MARHMI, a collective artistic movement originating from “Las Hermanas Mirabal,” a province in the Dominican Republic about the size of a small United States county. 

The group was founded in 2009 following the development of one of the Caribbean’s largest muralist projects. The project included the painting of 400 large murals throughout the province by a group of approximately 200 artists under the leadership of Hector Blanco. PCC is working with Dr. LeAnne Disla of the Duke-UNC Consortium in Latin American and Caribbean Studies, on the collaborative project with MARHMI. Several PCC instructors have traveled to the Dominican Republic to learn more about the “Stories through Murals” program and have assisted in painting murals there. Artists from the Dominican Republic are currently in North Carolina as part of the exchange and in the past have completed murals Shepard Middle School, Holton Community Center, and Hillside High School. This fall, they have projects with Craven Community College and Davidson Community College in addition to PCC.

CC students have been interviewing family members and others in the community about the history of the community and the College to help formulate the design for the murals. The muralists also will be the guests of the PCC Board of Trustees at its Oct. 16 meeting. In addition to the painting of the murals, StepN2theArtZ will include live music, dance, and foods representing Hispaniola. Truco Banda, the featured musical group, will play island and Hispanic music. The event also will include salsa and merengue dancing.

Also performing will be PCC guitar and banjo instructor Michael Thompson along with Michael Willis on percussion and keyboards. Thompson has the distinction of receiving the first bachelor’s degree in guitar performance to be awarded by UNC Chapel Hill. He also holds a Master of Music in Music Education from East Carolina University. He has worked as a performer, music educator, recording artist, music therapist, and in numerous Artist-in-Residence positions with the NC Arts Council.

Willis received his formal music training at Brevard and Appalachian State University. He has performed with the New York Quartet and regularly performs with Neal Davenport, the Jerry Lambert Trio, and Crossover Group Puddingstone. Willis and Thompson began performing together in 1968 with the formation of their high school group, The Deep Six.

PCC music instructor Panos Messis and PCC music students also will perform, and PCC photography and Film and Video Technology students also will participate in the day’s events. PCC instructors and students also will be involved in the event. The PCC Drama Troupe will present dramatic readings from “In the Time of Butterflies,” by Julia Alvarez, in keeping with the theme for the day.

The movie version of “In the Time of Butterflies” will be shown at the Kirby Theater on Wednesday at 7 p.m. The showing will be free and open to the public. This novel is also this semester’s Read ‘N See Book Club choice, sponsored by the PCC Learning Resources Centers. The film stars Salma Hayek, Edwards James Olmos, and Marc Anthony. PCC has extended special invitation to local school groups and senior citizens groups. All events are open to the public at no cost. PCC clubs will have concessions, some of them related to the day’s theme, available for sale.

Persons interested in bringing groups are asked to contact Dr. Dawn Langley at (336) 322-2207 or to make arrangements or for more information on the day’s events.