WSSU gallery director highlights black women at SECCA

WSSU gallery director highlights black women at SECCA
March 17
00:00 2016
Endia Beal



12×12 is the new salon series launched by the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA). This new juried salon series features twelve artists from across North Carolina, the twelfth state to enter the Union. Each salon exhibition is accompanied by an artist talk.

This first salon exhibition opened on March 1 with Winston-Salem-based photographer Endia Beal. Beal’s current body of work, “Am I What You’re Looking For?” is a photo installation that features college-age African-American women.

“Through a series of striking portraits, the project explores aspirations and challenges faced by college-age African-American women hoping to enter professional and corporate space,” stated Cora Fisher, curator of contemporary art at SECCA.

“Am I What You’re Looking for?” is currently on display in the preview gallery of SECCA. During the exhibit’s opening, Beal discussed her motivation behind the exhibit and answered questions from the audience. “People don’t have these conversations enough. I was very pleased with how it all went down,” states Fisher.

Beal is currently the director of the Diggs Gallery at Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) and an associate professor of art. She holds a dual baccalaureate degree in Studio Art and Art History from UNC Chapel Hill. She completed a Master of Fine Arts degree in Photography from Yale University.

“A native of Winston-Salem, an artist, and a teacher pioneering the salon series was very fit-ting,” says Fisher.

As an African-American woman, Beal has her own stories about working in a corporate space; however, this body of work was further inspired by questions from her female students at WSSU.

“Many of my students were coming to me about our transition into the corporate space. They were going on interviews and given the same kind of feedback that I received when I was in the corporate space,” says Beal. “Your hair looks very unkempt or messy. You need to pull your hair back or straighten it. You have on too much makeup or those heels are too high. That color is too bright. Do you have any pearls?”

Beal feels that African-American women were being asked to mute them-selves in order to gain opportunities and that was problematic.

“I decided to do a project very similar to a mock interview, where I allowed my students to be exactly who they were without having to alter themselves. We all have to alter our-selves in order to gain opportunities, which is unfortunate,” says Beal. “But in this space, this artistic space, we are free to be whoever we want to be.”

“Am I What You’re Looking For?” will be on view in the Preview Gallery of SECCA until April 1.

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