Inspired by the collage work of Charlotte artist Romare Bearden, design students from Hopewell High School worked together to “makeover” the old Virginia Paper Company building (Corner of Graham and 3rd Street) that has been sitting vacant for years. Installing about 20 panels, students wanted "…to make it something that's good to look at so it's not an eyesore in Charlotte," said Hopewell High School Senior, Ben Pierce. The project allowed CMS students the opportunity to make a meaningful real-world contribution to a public art project while connecting to the visual arts, history, and technology while offering a community service opportunity.

“The objective of this project was for Hopewell High School students to use Charlotte artist, Romare Bearden's techniques and sensibility in collage to express their own community life in Charlotte” says Center alumni artist, Annabel Manning. “The focus is on collage because Bearden is known for this art form but also because it is still viable today, even more so in the digital age.”  Printed on vinyl panels for and installed in the top row of windows on 3 sides of the building, the artwork may remain up for at least two years.

CMS Art Teacher Ben Premeaux says “The students and I had an amazing experience working with Annabel, her enthusiasm and knowledge of Bearden's work was very inspiring.” The students were able to connect the design with the Romare Bearden Park slated for construction across the street that also coincides with the Romare Bearden Centennial Celebration in September 2011. “The presentation by Arts & Science Council’s, Christie Kahil, was informative and really helped the students wrap their heads around the scope of the project. The Hopewell Graphics students are extremely proud to be a part of this project and have their work displayed on this scale in such a professional way.”

The Virginia Paper Company sits on land leased to the Charlotte Knights and is the planned site for a new ballpark. But years of lawsuits postponed the development.

This project is created in partnership with McColl Center for Visual Art, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and the Arts & Science Council and the Charlotte Knights and was installed November 15, 2010.

Featured articles:
Art Sprouts on Doomed Building by Mary Newsom (Charlotte Observer)
Bearden Redux by Glenn Burkins (Q City Metro)
Art Students Use Skill to Design Murals for Vacant Building by Kate Gaier (News Channel 14)