Rowan-Cabarrus Community College

Salisbury community members Mr. Heggins and Mr. Norvell holding their yearbook. Photo courtesy of the Fine & Applied Arts Department at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College

Salisbury community members Mr. Heggins and Mr. Norvell holding their yearbook. Photo courtesy of the Fine & Applied Arts Department at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College

The Rowan-Cabarrus Community College Foundation (RCCCF), working in collaboration with staff and faculty of the Fine and Applied Arts Department at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, are constructing three audio-enabled benches, strategically located within public spaces throughout Rowan County, that tell individuals’ stories of the past and present in their own voices. The goal of this project is to increase levels of community engagement and social cohesion through individual storytelling that highlights how racial, cultural, and ethnic diversity of communities makes them stronger and more resilient. A group of stakeholders, including representatives from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, Rowan County Public Library, City of Salisbury, the Rowan County Public Art Committee, Salisbury Pride (an LGBT advocacy organization), and Livingstone College, have come together to conduct outreach within the community to identify these stories and facilitate oral history collection sessions with a vision for creating a platform for powerful rotating narratives. Each of these benches will be a 20-foot S-curved steel design with a five-foot seating area on each side. The footprint dimensions are approximately 13x2 feet and displayed on the face of the support structure will be inspirational words and quotes pulled from individual stories. The locations for the artwork will include one on campus at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, another at the main branch of the Rowan Public Library, and the third at the Dixonville Cemetery, an historic African American cemetery. Once installed, the art will allow for programming through high schools, colleges, libraries, churches, museums, and cultural organizations, with opportunities for community members to share their own stories and sign up for future recording sessions, creating the potential for ongoing engagement and growth.