Host of partners celebrate Greenville diversity with visual art project

Building a more inclusive and vibrant community through art making

Children kneel to paint visual art on a door lying on the ground inside a studio.

Greenville Center for Creative Arts recently announced the launch of “Art Opens Doors,” a collaborative visual art project designed to cultivate and celebrate the diversity of the Greenville community through a one-day artistic learning experience at GCCA guided by the Brandon Fellows emerging professional artists.

The project was developed by the Open Doors team of the Diversity Leaders Initiative Upstate Class 34 of The Riley Institute at Furman University in partnership with GCCA and Greenville County Schools.

For the “Art Opens Doors” project, 16 fifth-grade students selected by their school art teachers from AJ Whittenberg Elementary, Sterling School, and The Charles Townes Center visited GCCA as a field trip. There, they met and worked with their peers from other schools, engaged in conversations about diversity and community-building, toured the Art Center, and created a collaborative work with the 2024 Brandon Fellows class: Kephira Davis, Christine Moore-Bonbright, and Elizabeth Wallace.

The result was a unique artwork and some insider knowledge about career pathways in the fine arts from artists who would know.

The Brandon Fellowship is a year-long, annual program to develop three emerging artists between the ages of 21-30 who represent the diversity of the Greenville community and are eager to advance their professional careers as visual artists. The fellowship provides a supportive environment, mentorship, professional development, studio space, and art education.

Danielle Fontaine is a visual artist and co-founder of the Brandon Fellowship. As an SCAC Leo Twiggs Scholar, she is also a member of the 34th Upstate DLI Class. She drew on her broad experience to play a critical role in developing “Art Opens Doors.”

“The Greenville Center for Creative Arts is a great example of a community where people of many different backgrounds express and share varied outlooks in a congenial atmosphere. They do this using a whole array of visual art mediums and learning from each other along the way,” Fontaine explained. “Our DLI team believes that children on the cusp of entering middle school will also enjoy meeting and learning in this colorful and vibrant atmosphere.”

Principal Cameron Brice of AJ Whittenberg Elementary expressed enthusiasm for the project.

“As a school of engineering, AJ Whittenberg Elementary seeks opportunities for students to work collaboratively through project-based learning. This project allows students to collaborate with their peers to create a finished product. Working with peers who have different ideas and learning how to accomplish a goal together is an important skill for students to learn, and it helps prepare them for the real world,” he said.

“Providing our students with meaningful learning experiences is at the center of our school’s mission of supporting the whole child. The “Art Opens Doors” project provides students with the unique opportunity to engage and collaborate with community leaders who share a similar interest in the arts. This engagement not only inspires but instills a sense of hope for future possibilities in school and in life,” Josh Patterson, principal of Sterling School and The Charles Townes Center said.

See it: Friday, Feb. 2

The doors painted by the students and Brandon Fellows will be displayed at a special exhibit and opening reception during First Friday gallery crawl on Friday, Feb. 2 from 6-9 p.m. at GCCA (101 Abney St., Greenville). This event and exhibition viewing is free and open to the public and will recognize all participating artists, students, and schools. After the opening reception, the “Art Opens Doors” exhibit will travel to the participating schools for additional public viewing.

All photos courtesy of GCCA. Click gallery images to enlarge.