If you’ve driven past the Harvey B. Gantt Center in recent days, you may have noticed a new piece of artwork hanging outside along the Stonewall Street side.

The 150-square-foot glass panel is the work of artist David Wilson, an Apex resident and Hampton University graduate best known for his murals.

Wilson (photo below) said the piece, called “Divergent Thread, Lucent Memories,” is a colorful abstract that “celebrates and shares the history and culture for many who have contributed to Charlotte’s success.”

The work was inspired by European abstract artists such as Picasso and Matisse, and by native North Carolinian African American masters like Romare Bearden and John Biggers.

Wilson said he started with a quilt-inspired theme dedicated to the idea of preserving African American history, much the way fabric quilts have done. But as the creative process was tweaked, it morphed into the large tempered glass.

“I’m inspired by anything that’s universal, like families, relationships and history, especially African American history,” he said. “I like anything that requires me to use bold shapes bright colors and lights.”

Wilson said he started the project by creating a painting from his sketches. The painting was then digitally replicated so that a team of glass artists in Germany could create the panels and ship them back to Charlotte.

The entire process, he said, took a year to complete and was the biggest project he’s worked on to date. He called it an artistic collaboration between him and the overseas team.

Wilson has created other public artwork throughout the Carolinas and is influenced by artists such as Charles White, Ernie Barnes, Henri Matisse and Biggers.

Wilson said he has learned to perfect his craft. To aspiring artists he offers this: “Don’t let anything get in the way of your imagination. Be happy with your talent as an artist. If you’re not happy with your work, try to improve it.”

Wilson said he’s pleased with the project but admits to losing some sleep over the last year. His original painting will hang in the lobby at Gantt Center, which opens Oct. 24.

Click here to download more (.pdf) about artist David Wilson and the piece he created for the Gantt Center.

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