Rashaun Rucker’s art chosen for exhibit at WFU

Rashaun Rucker talks about his piece “Tapestry of my Soul”.

Rashaun Rucker’s art chosen for exhibit at WFU
November 10
14:13 2021

Award winning photographer and artist Rashaun Rucker has had his work shown across the country, at the Smithsonian, celebrities’ homes, colleges and universities, and in countless exhibitions and galleries. Now, for the first time since he was a student at East Forsyth High School, Rucker’s work is on display right here in his hometown of Winston-Salem. Rucker’s piece “Tapestry to my Soul” is a part of Wake Forest University’s Means of Identification exhibition which is on display at the Hanes Gallery. 

“Tapestry of my Soul” is a print of several images quilted together that relate to Rucker’s upbringing, family, and other people and things that were influential in his life. The piece is part of a larger exhibit completed by Rucker earlier this year entitled “Up From the Red Clay,” a multimedia exhibition consisting of over 20 new works. 

Rucker said there is a lengthy vetting process when colleges and universities acquire pieces and he was ecstatic when he found out everything was finalized. 

“They probably had like 100 artists and they narrowed it down … so I was excited, but I wasn’t overjoyed until I knew it was a real thing and that it was going to happen,” Rucker said. 

“I was overjoyed that it was going to be in Winston-Salem, my hometown, because I don’t have any work in my hometown. All my work is in New York, Miami, Detroit, some in LA …  I don’t have any work in North Carolina and I probably haven’t shown any work since I was a student at East Forsyth.” 

Rucker said it was important for him to have his work shown in his hometown to give young people in the community something to aspire to be. “I wanted it to be in my hometown for young artists, students, everyone to see it because sometimes representation is important; sometimes you need that to really believe you can do something,” he said. 

“As a kid growing up on 22nd Street, I would have loved to have seen that for myself, because I needed those types of things to push me further. My hope is that there’s a young artist in Winston-Salem that comes to see the exhibit and they’re inspired to go further.” 

After graduating from East Forsyth, Rucker took his talents to N.C. Central University (NCCU), where his love for art continued to grow. NCCU is also where Rucker started to venture into photography and photojournalism. He said his sophomore year he was persuaded to sit in on a photography class.

“There was a photography professor on campus who wanted me to take his class, but I didn’t want to take any extra classes. I told him I didn’t want to take it and he said ‘Why don’t you just come sit in on the class,’” Rucker continued. “He said, ‘Just come to class and do the assignments and you won’t get a grade but you will learn.’” 

Rucker sat in on the photography class and at the conclusion of the course he was offered an internship at the Winston-Salem Journal and the legend of Rashaun Rucker started to grow from there. 

After graduating from NCCU and serving as an intern at the Journal, Rucker took a full-time position as a photojournalist at the Detroit Free Press. 

For his photography, prints, and drawings over the years, Rucker has won more than 50 national and state awards. In 2008 Rucker became the first African American to be named Michigan Press Photographer of the Year. That same year he also won an Emmy for documentary photography. He has also served as a Maynard Fellow at Harvard University and a Hearst Visiting Professional in the journalism department at UNC Chapel Hill. Rucker’s work has also been featured in the HBO series “Native Son” and “Random Acts of Flyness.” Currently, Rucker serves as a Mellow Resident at the University of Michigan. 

Rucker said when people see his piece in the Hanes Art Gallery, he hopes it makes them proud of where they’re from and that they give loved ones their flowers while they can still smell them. 

“One of the reasons I did that body of work was to celebrate the people. We always in the Black community give people their flowers while they can smell them,” Rucker said. “I want people to look at and be proud of where they’re from as well, and celebrate the people who shaped them.” 

“Tapestry of my Soul” and the entire “Means of Identification” exhibit, will be on display at the Hanes Art Gallery, 1834 Wake Forest Road, until Dec. 10. For more information, visit and click on the “Exhibitions” tab. 

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Tevin Stinson

Tevin Stinson

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