by Daniel Schere

Local Artist’s love of history reflected in large murals

The mural above, entitled “This School, This City,” will debut in September at the New Winston Museum. Artist Nick Bragg is creating the mural to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the UNC School of the Arts.

Cozily tucked away behind a house on the Northwest Side of Winston-Salem lies Nick Bragg’s art studio. It is there that this softspoken man of 78 years spends most his time these days. His latest project is an 18-foot mural which honors the 50 th anniversary of the UNC School of the Arts.

The mural will debut in September at the New Winston Museum, as part of a partnership between the museum and UNCSA called “This School, This City” which is also the name of the painting. It will then be moved into the school’s new library, which is currently under construction. Bragg, who once taught at the school, said he was approached by faculty member Mike Wakeford who asked him if he would be willing to do a commemorative painting.

“He’s seen my murals and he thought it’d be a good thing to do for the 50 th anniversary and I said sure,” he said.

Bragg’s other murals can be found downtown, in Forsyth Medical Center, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, as well as in Raleigh and Charlotte.

Bragg has been painting since he was five and is at the end of a career that has taken him through Old Salem and Reynolda House, where he served in leadership positions, before he turned to teaching at UNCSA. Since retiring 15 years ago, he has taken to painting more intensely. When Bragg is not painting he enjoys reading, which he says is what inspires him, in addition to the students he has taught over the years.

“I’m an eclectic reader, and I’m curious about where any culture comes from,” he said. “I’m inspired by what I read, what I see, where I’ve travelled and the school is a great inspiration. These students through the years are some of the most energetic, creative people I’ve run into anytime, anywhere.”

Looking at the mural can be overwhelming at first, but if you look at the middle you will find a pot representing Native American settlement in North Carolina, and a crown which symbolizes a meeting rumored to have taken place between Queen Elizabeth I and Native Americans in 1585.

“This is a story,” he said. “It’s not chronological but it involves everything from 500 years ago with the Yadkin River.”

In the upper left corner is the new library where the painting will be displayed, and in the middle is a depiction of Winston-Salem’s skyline.

But the mural also contains national and world landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Eiffel Tower.

“This school was set up not to teach teachers, but to teach professionals,” Bragg said. “They’ve gone all over the world to perform music, art, dance, filmmaking, drama production have all come out of this school. So they’re all represented.” !