If you’re writing a book about visual art in North Carolina, there’s really no better place to look than UNC Greensboro, according to artist and professor Barbara Campbell Thomas.
“I think that there’s such an incredible history of art here at UNCG. We were the first art department in the state, back when we were the Woman’s College. We are the school within the UNC System where art classes started.”
Campbell Thomas teaches painting, print-making and drawing at what is now the School of Art in the College of Visual and Performing Arts at UNCG. She has just been named Director of the school, and she is one of four School of Art professors featured in the recently published book Art of the State: Celebrating the Visual Art of North Carolina by Liza Roberts. The book tells the story of the state’s evolution through the lens of the art world, through profiles of individual artists—painters, photographers, sculptors, and other artists who contribute to the state’s growing reputation in the visual arts.
“People don’t realize just how many artists are in this state. We have a vibrant arts community with such a range of artists in all media,” says Thomas. “I think the author started talking to artists she knew and it was this domino effect of each artist leading her to another.”
In addition to Campbell Thomas, Art of the State includes profiles of Jennifer Meanley (Associate Professor of Painting, Printmaking, and Drawing), Mariam Stephan (Professor of Painting), and Pat Wasserboehr (Professor of Ceramics and Sculpture). The book also features the Weatherspoon Art Museum and UNCG Chancellor Franklin D. Gilliam and his wife Jaquelean who are avid collectors and lovers of North Carolina art.
Campbell Thomas says she’s not surprised that there are so many UNCG connections in Art of the State.
“We have such a strong School of Art. We are such a rich program and a link to an important contemporary art museum like the Weatherspoon.”
The School of Art is not just strong—it’s large. With over 500 students, the school is the biggest and fastest growing area in the College of Visual and Performing Arts.
“I think people—including prospective students—are starting to realize we are this extraordinary jewel. Our facility and faculty are amazing. The Gatewood Building is a great place to make art and our professors are all committed artists, not just teachers.That’s a huge strength.”
Learn more about UNCG’s School of Art.
Story by Terri W. Relos
Photo of Barbara Campbell Thomas in her studio by Lissa Gotwals, first published in Art of The State: Celebrating the Visual Art of North Carolina, published by UNC Press, 2022