Upstairs Artspace offers Nina Simone Project workshops and lecture

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Chef Hanan Shabazz will offer a two-hour soul food cooking class at the Roseland Community Center on March 7.

Chef Hanan Shabazz will offer a two-hour soul food cooking class at the Roseland Community Center on March 7.

The Upstairs Artspace continues its celebration of Nina Simone’s legacy and Black History Month over the next week with two workshops, and a walk-and-talk gallery tour.

Asheville artist Valeria Watson, whose installation Reparations for Nina reimagines Simone’s childhood home in Tryon, will offer an African Wrap Doll-making workshop on Friday, March 6. The aim is to create a doll using found and household objects.

Watson will provide materials such as feathers, beans, fabric scraps, raffia cord to hold the “dress” in place, and shells to be used as a base for the doll stand. Participants are encouraged to bring something from home to personalize their creations. All ages and genders are welcome. The two-hour class begins at 4 p.m. at the gallery, 49 S. Trade St., Tryon. It is free to the public.

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At 4 p.m. on Saturday, chefs Hanan Shabazz and Brit Castaneda will offer a two-hour soul food cooking class at the Roseland Community Center, 56 Peake St., Tryon. This workshop also is free to the public, although those interested are encouraged to sign up on the event’s Facebook page to help determine how much food will be needed. Participants are encouraged to bring an appetite, as you will be able to eat the dishes you create.

At 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 11, Deborah Fitzgerald, PhD, and artist Linda Larsen will give a walk-and-talk lecture on Larsen’s exhibit, Sights Unforeseen, which is currently on display at the Upstairs. Larsen’s paintings contemplate slavery and the Middle Passage – the often deadly journey slaves endured from Africa to the Americas – while her sculptures are a reflection of the disproportionately large African-American population in U.S. prisons today. Dr. Fitzgerald is currently teaching the Philosophy of Architecture class series at the Upstairs.

The Nina Simone Project exhibits will remain on display at the gallery through March 13. All of the events are free and open to the public, thanks to a grant from the Polk County Community Foundation’s Community Matters free public event program.

The Upstairs Artspace is a non-profit art gallery whose mission is to develop an understanding and appreciation of contemporary art and craft forms through exhibits, programs and educational activities that enrich the cultural life of the region. The gallery’s mission also is supported by a 2015 grant from the Polk County Community Foundation, and additional funding from the North Carolina Council of the Arts and UA members.

The Upstairs is located at 49 South Trade St., Tryon. For additional information call 828-859-2828, or visit the gallery’s website at

– Submitted by Harold Maass