Nina Simone project opens at Upstairs Artspace in Tryon, Jan. 31

Reparations for Nina, works by Asheville Affrilachian artist Valeria Watson, recreates singer Nina Simone’s home in Tryon’s Upstairs Artspace. Simone was born in Tryon. The exhibit opens on Saturday, Jan. 31, at 5 p.m.

Press release from Valeria Watson:

Asheville Affrilachian Artist Valeria Watson creates change and community through her show opening in Tryon, North Carolina titled ‘Reparations for Nina.’ Nina Simone, renown Singer, musician and activist, was born in Tryon. She is it’s shining star and yet there are still those who would deny her legacy in her home town. Crys Armbrust, of the Eunice Waymon/Nina Simone Memorial Project has held the torch for scholarships, the sculpture in town and a yearly music festival in town. Along with the Nina Simone family they work to honor her life and protect her legacy. Watson’s UNCA exhibit Whole Earth Theory:Dimensions of Life and Death was called the Best Show of 2013 by critic Kyle Sherard.

When fellow artist Margaret Curtis began discussing the idea of Valeria doing a exhibit inspired by Nina; February, Black History Month seemed the perfect time since Ms. Simone was born in February. Watson, who is a Priestess of Osun suggested turning the event into a community wide healing ritual, honoring Nina with month long events much as she had done in 2003 in Sierra Vista, Arizona with her event Sierra Vista Celebrates Black Culture. This developed into a project to bring black and white Tryon together with frank discussions, music and art, The Nina Simone Project.

Art always reflects the persona of the artist but not always in such a literal way as Valeria Watson’s works do.

Watson’s collages fabrics in the Upstairs Artspace to recreate Nina Simone’s home.

“We had similar childhoods under segregation. Being allowed to photograph local models in Nina’s home, tied me to place and time. I then began to construct in my mind how that house could become a gift or reparation to Nina. It consists of things I love and it is a sharing with Nina and Tryon. I am sending Peace and thanks to her for her gift to us. Oh, and most of the props in the house are for sale.”

The closing March 13th, will screen a showing of “Ghosts of the South”. Ghosts is an 18 minute Butoh film, and community collaboration with Julie Becton Gilliam and Watson, interpreting unconscious issues haunting southern society.

About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. She is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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