12/30/09 — Imani art exhibit takes aim at raising money for cause

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Imani art exhibit takes aim at raising money for cause

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on December 30, 2009 1:46 PM

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Lawrence Durham of Biblical Arts, finds a spot for one of his paintings in the Imani Hall at Rebuilding Broken Places on Monday. The word Imani means faith, as is the concept the gallery is centered on.

Artist Lawrence Durham has shown his work in galleries across eastern North Carolina, but his paintings currently on display in the Imani Christmas Art Gala have a special meaning for him.

"Imani" means faith, and the art display being sponsored by the Rebuilding Broken Places group was also an act of faith, for both Durham and the Rebuilding Broken Places Community Development Corp., in hopes of raising money to help the community.

"Not only is this to help establish the concept of Imani, which has already been established since 2004 when the first Wall of Inductees occurred, it's to help the downtrodden in our community," Durham said. "Those that try to make it from year to year, and aren't as fortunate as we are. That's one thing about what Imani is, it stands for faith, but more than that, it's a breakdown of brotherhood."

About 90 percent of the artwork on display is Durham's. The paintings are originals, mostly oil or oil and acrylic on canvas, and are for sale at cost or near-cost to the artist, with proceeds going to the organization.

Many of the works of art are of historical note, such as a painting of the African-American Buffalo Soldiers protecting a Wells Fargo stagecoach, which has proved to be especially interesting to children from the Rebuilding Broken Places nursery center who have visited the art display.

"I've found that a lot of the kids we bring through, they just eyeball that," Durham said.

Other pieces of the art on display hold cultural value, such as a painting that Durham said represents the plight of sharecroppers. Other paintings have a spiritual message, such as the examples of murals Durham often paints for churches and small businesses.

Durham also worked to help set up the Imani Wall of Firsts several years ago. The walls of photographs and memorabilia represent the accomplishments of people who have been proven leaders in the community.

Inducted into the Wall of Firsts this year were Congressman G.K. Butterfield, state Department of Justice Chief of Staff Kristi Hyman and former Goldsboro fire chief Bobby Greenfield.

"The Imani is this inductee, those individuals, who were first trailblazers in North Carolina, not only Wayne County," Durham said.

Durham was first commissioned in 2004 by the Rev. Dr. William Barber to create the Wall of Firsts and he decided to return to help with the art gala.

There is no cost to attend the art display, but donations are welcome, and artworks are available for a donation of $25-$500. The Rebuilding Broken Places group is attempting to reach a goal of $5,000. Donations are tax deductible.

The group held a gallery opening on Dec. 19, which was well attended, organizers said. The exhibit will be on display until Jan. 8. The public is welcome to view the exhibit Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., at the Greenleaf Vision of Faith Community Center at 2105 N. William St.

Durham also hopes to encourage local schools to bring children to see the exhibit once classes resume next week.

The Wayne County Arts Council was a big help in preparing for the event and in contacting locals interested in art, Durham said.

"The Wayne County Arts Council helped us out a lot. They gave us access to their mailing list," he said.

So far, about a dozen pieces of artwork were sold to benefit the organization.