Art helps celebrate Black History Month

February 6, 2014

Amanda Moss

ROCKINGHAM — Peggy Covington, of Rockingham, began putting together an exhibit on Tuesday at the Leath Memorial Library in Rockingham in celebration of Black History Month.

Covington has been putting together this exhibit for nearly 10 years, and the theme for this year is honoring the African Americans who have made it to the Oscars. Covington placed paintings representing scenes from “12 Years a Slave,” “The Butler,” “Django Unchained” and “Ray.”

Along with the movie representations, Covington also added a bit of flair by placing albums from Ray Charles and Billie Holiday and books describing the lives of Jackie Robinson, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr.

“I’m celebrating Black History month through the form of art,” Covington said.

While the majority of the paintings that Covington placed in the library are her own work, she also adds the work from some of her art students.

“This month is about the history of African Americans and it’s also about (the children) knowing what this month means,” Covington said.

Covington has been working with the imaginations of children through painting for 10 years.

“I first started out at Leak Street writing grants for the arts,” Covington said. “Eventually, though, we were stuck with an art class with blossoming students but no one to cover the class.”

It was then that Covington took on the task to help with the students.

“I decided to start painting,” Covington said. “The students and I were teaching, learning and painting together.”

Covington now helps out with the children at Rockingham Housing Authority to continue inspiring their creativity. She uses some of the paintings from them as well as paintings from her past students.

“It really amazes me what these kids are capable of,” Covington said. “There is education in all these paintings. They don’t just paint them, they talk about it and understand exactly what it is they are doing.”

Covington pointed to past paintings by a previous student of hers, Farron Askins, who had painted two of the displayed pictures. One painting was inspired by the movie “Lady Sings the Blues” and the other was inspired from “12 Years a Slave.”

“Farron didn’t even realize she could paint until she gave it a try,” Covington said. “Children really do develop lifetime skills by participating in art, such as discipline.”

The children at the Rockingham Housing Authority won’t stop with the paintings for Black History Month, Covington said. They will also be focusing on nutrition and the foods that are culturally related to African Americans and their history in this country. Foods such as apples, sweet and white potatoes, bananas, biscuits and collards.

“These are the foods we used because back in the day that was all that was available,” Covington said. “We’re very grateful to Commissioner (John) Garner and Bryan Wilson for donating a lot of the food that we will be using.”

The exhibit will be up in the Leath Memorial Library through the end of February.