To commemorate Black history in Northwest Georgia, there's an art exhibit in Dalton and an African American history museum on the rise in Walker County.
With an opening Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the Creative Arts Guild in Dalton is hosting two exhibits: "The Profound Responsibility of Individuality: A Selection of Works by Prominent African-American Artists" and "Artists and Memorabilia of Lesotho."
"We've got a wide variety of pieces," said Sarah Murry, marketing director for the guild, in a phone interview. "And we definitely wanted to give our community a way to commemorate and observe Black History Month. Black History Month is such a rich holiday, and there's so many ways to experience and look at it and learn from it. The arts is definitely an important way to learn about different periods of history, other cultures and a great way to commemorate Black History Month."
The exhibit is a collaboration with Robert Webb, a longtime friend of the guild, and his friend, Joshua Guerrier, a musician, rapper and art collector. Their exhibit includes pieces from their personal collections as well as work from the Brandywine Workshop in Philadelphia.
The other exhibit is curated by Murray Goodlet, who is an honorary consul of Lesotho and resident of Dalton. It features art from that African country on display for the first time.
Beverly Foster is the president of the Walker County African American Historical & Alumni Association. Last year, the Walker County Commission agreed to allow a building donated to the county to be used for an African American museum.
Foster said its first exhibit would likely open in May. It will be called "Build as We Built," an exhibit that combines art and history. It will focus on buildings erected by African Americans in Walker County. The museum will also be highlighting northwest Georgia artists of all ages and backgrounds.
"They had a list, Georgia Council of the Arts, of all the artists we could pick from and everything. I said no, I wanted to see if we had some of our own local artists," Foster said in a phone interview. "They can see what it's like to be paid for their art and what it's really like to be artists, so that they can actually strive to achieve."
She said supporters are still fundraising for the museum and the park dedicated to notable African Americans from Walker County. She thinks the park will likely cost a couple hundred thousand dollars due to expenses from architectural plans and erecting monuments. The alumni association will also be hosting a T-shirt design contest for students. There are three categories: grade school, middle school and high school, with a cash prize for each.
Their $1,000 scholarship essay contest will be announced soon. It's open only to African American students, while the T-shirt contest is open to all students.
"The vision for the park is to highlight the African Americans that we feel are our heroes and made outstanding contributions to Walker County," she said, such as business people, veterans, athletes and faith leaders. She said they are still fundraising, and they welcome donations from the public.
Foster said it's important to highlight African American history beyond enslavement. Too much of the history featured in Walker County is focused on the era of slavery, she said. Younger residents want to know about more modern achievements, she said.
Foster also has a regular program on UCTV, a cable access channel that also streams on Facebook. Rules and details for the contests and scholarships are available on the group's Facebook page as well.