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Linda Dallas is an artist and assistant professor of visual art at St. Augustine’s University in Raleigh. She is also the co-curator of the exhibition “Black On Black.”

Linda Dallas

Calling all artists and creative thinkers: put your pencils, paintbrushes and imaginations to work telling the story of St. Agnes Hospital on Saturday, April 8 for Envision Saint Agnes Hospital. The event is a daylong art-making/place-making event on the campus of St. Augustine’s University, 1315 Oakwood Avenue, Raleigh.

Built in 1908 from stones quarried from St. Augustine’s campus, this four-story historic structure was the second home of St. Agnes Hospital (1896 -1961). Known as “The Healing Place,” St. Agnes served the African-American community for 65 years providing both nurses training and medical care. In 1922, it was referred to as “the only well-equipped hospital for Negros between Washington DC and New Orleans…” in the Journal of the National Medical Association.

Today, the empty shell remains a beautiful edifice that sparks the imagination. I want artists to be inspired not only by the beauty of the site but also by the complex history, human stories and potential future of this place.

Raleigh is growing so rapidly and I see much of the African-American history of the city falling to the wrecking ball. I want Envision Saint Agnes Hospital to show how art and collaboration can envision a living history and vital future for these sites.

“The College Park area has a unique history based on the strong relationship between St. Augustine’s and the community,” said Briana Outlaw, landscape architecture designer, community activist and member of the Envision Planning Committee. “This history should be valued and reflect any future development of this neighborhood. I want Envision Saint Agnes Hospital to build on that legacy.”

360 photo by Beaumonde.

Artists will be working on site from sunrise to sunset. Light is everything to artists. There will be additional programming in the nearby Prezell Robinson Library on campus. The activity schedule includes an African-American History walking tour, a documentary screening, a community discussion and even a watercolor workshop with yours truly.

All activities are free and open to the public. Because of the rugged nature of the location, artists must be 12 years old or older to work on the St. Agnes site and minors must be accompanied by an adult. However, we will have plenty of activities for younger artists in the library. For more details about the event schedule visit the Block Gallery website and click on Artists Calls.

The activity that really has the community buzzing is a photography session organized by artist Mike Aliff. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Aliff will create a composite photograph of all the event attendees that were born in St. Agnes. liff’s philosophy is “Truth creates art that matters.” It is heartwarming to see how excited the “St. Agnes Babies” are about participating in this project.

What comes next?

Well, attend the event on April 8. You can RSVP on Facebook.

Also: After you create your St. Agnes-inspired artwork, submit the work for the “Envision Saint Agnes Exhibition.” The Office of Raleigh Arts has generously offered to be a project sponsor and host a juried exhibition of St. Agnes artwork. The exhibition is scheduled for Block Gallery from September 27 through November 10. The deadline for submissions is Friday, August 18. Thirty percent of all exhibition sales will go toward creating a student designed public artwork that acknowledges St. Agnes Hospital.

I’ve been very fortunate to find so many generous partners for this project. I’d like to say a special thank you to Stacy Bloom Rexrode and Kim Curry Evans with the Office of Raleigh Arts; Shep Bryan and Caroline Caldwell with Beaumonde; Bill O’Boyle with North State Consulting; and my ongoing partner in art Mike Williams with ArtsNow.

Envision Saint Agnes Planning Committee: (standing from left to right) Joyce Bailey Stephens, Frederick Sills, Mike Aliff, Aaliyah Blaylock – Seated from left to right Kathleen Rieder, Michelle Davis Petelinz, Briana Outlaw, Linda Dallas, Donald Glenn and Irene Clark.The group is in front of a model of St. Agnes Hospital by artist Pinkie Strothers.

Last but certainly not least, a big thank you to the Envision Planning Committee: Mike Aliff, Joyce Bailey Stephens, Aaliyah Blaylock, Irene Clark, Michelle Davis Petelinz, Donald Glenn, Briana Outlaw, Kathleen Rieder and Frederick Sills. These folks are truly a dream team of artists, educators, students and community activists. Finally, I must thank Kaili Ingram for the photographs that accompany this post.

One Response

  1. Heather Leah

    I LOVE St. Agnes! It’s a beautiful building with a fascinating history, and I’m excited to see it getting some love! I’d love to help out if I can, even if it’s just spreading the word.


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