Mural exhibition at Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art

The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) presents If These Walls Could Talk, an exhibition of site-specific mural installations by William Downs, Neka King, and Raj Bunnag, on view September 21 through December 31, 2023, in SECCA’s Potter Gallery. An opening reception with the artists and curator Maya Brooks will be held Thursday, September 21, from 6 to 8 pm.

Admission is free and open to the public.

For centuries, murals served as visual representations of complex social and political commentary in accessible spaces. Creatives placed their work on public structures, in civic centers, among other prominent areas, to communicate relevant critiques of everyday life. This documentation of contemporary issues connected individual experiences across race, gender, and religion, providing a tangible record of shared existence.

If These Walls Could Talk upholds the relationship between mural art and public institutions with site-specific works by Durham, NC–based artist Raj Bunnag and Atlanta, GA–based artists William Downs and Neka King. Each of these artists engages graphic techniques that range from line drawing to printmaking, paralleling traditional mural applications that require affixing materials directly onto a wall. Ultimately, their stylized depictions of people and landscapes envelop viewers in an illustrative social analysis of present and sometimes future concepts.

If These Walls Could Talk also marks the Winston-Salem curatorial debut of Maya Brooks, the assistant curator of contemporary art serving both SECCA and the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.

“I am most excited about this exhibition because it builds upon a long-standing human tradition of sharing ideas and building communities through public expression,” Brooks said. “Although distinctly contemporary in style and focus, this exhibition feels timeless because of the artists’ ability to reference the different layers of history that have altered our present and, possibly, our future experiences.”

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

Raj Bunnag, White Lies, 2022, Installation.
Raj Bunnag, White Lies, 2022, Installation. Photo courtesy of Sally Van Gorder.

Neka King is an illustrator and muralist who contrasts minimalism with bold patterns to create energetic compositions across digital platforms, print-based media, and physical sites. King’s installations often relate to her experiences across intersecting identities, which guide her creative practices and installation projects.

King received her BFA in Studio Arts with a concentration in Textile Arts from the Ernest G. Welch School of Art and Design at Georgia State University in 2016. She has worked extensively with public and private partners, collaborating on projects with corporations like Nike, H&M, Refinery29, and AT&T at Mercedes Benz Stadium.

The artist’s website is nnekkaa.com.

William Downs’ practice varies from drawing, painting, and printmaking to experimenting with installation and three-dimensional studies. The line is his current notable element, which he considers paradoxically fundamental and surreal based on its infinite capabilities.

Downs received a Multidisciplinary MFA from the Mount Royal School of Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore, and a BFA in Painting and Printmaking from the Atlanta College of Art and Design. Downs has exhibited at venues nationally and abroad, with institutions like The High Museum of Art, The Birmingham Museum of Art, and The Smithsonian Museum of Art collecting his work.

The artist’s website is williamedowns.com.

Raj Bunnag is a Thai American artist living and working in Durham, North Carolina. His overarching art practice examines systematic racism inherent in American institutions and public policies.

Bunnag received his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2022 and his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2012. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at the SAC Gallery Bangkok, American University Dubai, CAM Raleigh, the Jewett Art Gallery at Wellesley College, The University of Wisconsin Parkside, and the Kai Lin Art Gallery.

The artist’s website is rajbunnag.com.

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