As Chatham Park continues to develop its community, they remain dedicated to supporting local art in Chatham County. As part of that commitment, Chatham Park is powering our Go See This series. They join us in inviting you to Go See This . . .
The Plant just keeps getting better and better. You may know The Plant as the locale for the annual PepperFest and as a destination for delicious beverages, axe throwing, and nutritious food, but did you know that it’s also a hub for local art?
In addition to the Smelt Art Gallery, which features works by local artists, a new mural by artist Claire Alexandre was recently unveiled at Chatham Cider Works (CCW) that pays homage to Roxie Small, a civil rights activist and co-founder of the NAACP in Chatham County.
“We find Claire’s work to be incredibly powerful,” says Elise Crawford, Chatham Cider Works’ Head of Marketing and Product Development and Event Coordinator at The Plant. “She is truly talented. We thought she would be able to capture the essence of Roxie Small’s story, as well as illustrate the abundance of Chatham County and its agricultural roots. Especially at The Plant, natural resources are so much of what creates the space and makes it unique. Claire has the ability to bring color and life to the subjects of her work in a way that honors them, and that was the energy we wanted when people entered The Plant.”
As Elise notes, the development of the mural was a collaborative effort, but Claire’s vision and creativity brought the idea to life. “It was a group effort,” says Elise. “Claire and the CCW team had a couple of meetings to discuss the concept and vision for the mural, but it was Claire who tied everything together and gave us a complete vision of all the elements we had hoped for.”
Claire, who describes herself as “a Diaspora child, an abolitionist feminist storyteller, and student of all ecologies who weaves autobiographical reflections with ancestral wisdom,” dove into research before coming up with a design for the mural. “I wanted to create something that honors the place and the people who came before us,” notes Claire. “For me, it was not enough to simply create a beautiful mural; the message was essential. I knew I wanted to highlight a Black woman leader, and I came upon Roxie Small’s story while I was doing some research. I was immediately struck by her gaze in an old black and white photo. She looked remarkably strong. Once I read about all her achievements in Chatham county, I knew it had to be her. After getting the consent from Miss Roxie’s descendants, I began to work. Because this was commissioned by The Plant, I wanted to include elements relevant to that setting, such as a basket of local fruits and vegetables, hands holding up a shovel, a steaming bowl of food and a lamp. Miss Roxie worked tirelessly to bring abundance to her people; she was a light in the dark. The piece is also very metaphorical in that sense.”
Adding artwork to the already beautiful setting of The Plant only makes it a more bucolic landscape. As Elise notes, “The Plant is a unique destination that has a long history in Chatham County. Art is one of the best ways The Plant can express what it hopes to be to the people who work here, the people who visit, and the people who will hopefully one day discover us. Local artwork can be found through the entire site — metal sculptures, Smelt Art Gallery, and even in the products made by those that work here. While we do draw people down the road for food and drinks, we hope that we keep them here—and coming back—for the nature, community, ideas, and overall feeling the space gives them.”
Take a trip out to The Plant and check out this new and beautiful piece of art!
- What: A new mural by Claire Alexandre outside of Chatham Cider Works
- Where: Chatham Cider Works at The Plant, Lorax Lane, Pittsboro
- When: The mural is up for all to see at any time. Chatham Cider Works cider flights are available at the tasting room at the Chatham Beverage District. For tasting room hours, visit the Fairgame Beverage website.
- Cost: Free