Cameron Art Museum to Unveil Sculpture Commemorating U.S. Colored Troops

WILMINGTON, N.C. — Save the date of November 13, 2021 for the unveiling of Boundless, new public sculpture by North Carolina artist Stephen Hayes commemorating the U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) at Cameron Art Museum (CAM). Located on the site of the Battle of Forks Road on the grounds of CAM, this life-size bronze sculpture features the life casts of 11 African American men connected to the Battle of Forks Road and its story — USCT descendants, re-enactors, veterans, and community leaders. One of the young men in the sculpture is a descendant of four USCT soldiers. 

The unveiling weekend (November 13-14, 2021) will feature free admission to the museum, public tours, a conversation with the artist, living history, music, family activities, music, and speakers.

CAM stands on the site of the Battle of Forks Road, a Civil War skirmish whose victory was won by the USCT and led to the fall of Wilmington, the Confederacy’s last seaport. Many of the African American soldiers who fought here were native to this area, and after the war, many stayed to build community. These 1,600 USCT soldiers fought for the Union, but they also fought for their freedom and the abolishment of slavery. Their impact is significant, yet the story is virtually unknown.

The USCT Project is timely and necessary, as our nation looks closely at issues of race and systemic racism. This project, with its goal of engaging the community and addressing race and racism through programming that contextualizes Stephen Hayes’s USCT sculpture with local history, will benefit Wilmington, NC, a city marred by a tragic past of white supremacy. Artist Stephen Hayes says, “As a black man in America, you see the imagery of a Black person in chains, being whipped, begging, kneeling and helpless. This project is important to me because, as a creator, I get to change that narrative—by giving Black soldiers a sense of honor and pride.” 

CAM is the steward of the Battle of Forks Road Historic Site and is dedicated to interpreting the contribution of the USCT through art, living history, and educational opportunities. This project is funded in part by the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Inclusive Public Art grant.

Durham-born artist Stephen Hayes is the recipient of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art and teaches at Duke University. He is known for his figurative work, specifically depicting the African American experience. Hayes’s work has been featured at the National Cathedral, Winston Salem State University, Duke University, CAM Raleigh, Rosa Parks Museum, African American Museum of Philadelphia, and Harvey B. Gantt Center, among others.

In May 2019, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) awarded Inclusive Public Art grants, totaling $450,000, to ten communities across North Carolina. The Foundation’s investment in Inclusive Public Art is intended to help share stories of diversity, equality, inclusion and equity as they relate to the people and places of North Carolina, especially those whose stories are often untold. ZSR’s hope is that this effort will catalyze community conversations that can result in a shared, and fuller, understanding of our common history – and common bonds – as North Carolinians.  ZSR has launched a microsite to share information about all ten Inclusive Public Art sites, which are located across the state.

Cameron Art Museum provides a cultural gathering place that enriches the lives of museum visitors and the community through high-quality exhibitions, lifelong learning in the arts, dynamic public programs, and stewardship and interpretation of the collection. CAM’s four core values: commitment to community, to lifelong learning in the arts, to support of artists, and to collecting, preserving, documenting and interpreting a permanent collection of art. The museum has been a collecting institution since inception, with approximately 3,000 objects in the permanent collection, with a primary and growing focus on modern art. The collection includes work by artists of national and international significance, used in changing thematic exhibitions, loan exhibitions, and for educational purposes. Cameron Art Museum is a non-profit fully reliant on the generosity of its donors. For more information



Heather Wilson

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