A message of peace: Richmond's holiday card art displayed at reception

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 20, 2012

By Hugh Fisher
For the Salisbury Post
SALISBURY – This holiday season, as many local residents send out gifts and greetings, local artist Barbara Harris Richmond’s artwork will help spread a message of peace on Earth.
Thursday evening, Richmond’s painting “Peace Throughout The World” was displayed at a reception at the Rail Walk studios and gallery, honoring the winner of the annual Rowan Helping Ministries contest for holiday card art.
Board members, friends and benefactors came to greet Richmond, whose work was one of seven entries in this year’s competition.
Executive Director Kyna Foster said Richmond’s artwork was selected because it speaks to the mission of Rowan Helping Ministries, and what the agency does in the community.
“It shows the hope that we have, that we are making a difference in the lives of people we serve,” Foster said.
Richmond is known throughout the community for her artistic, among other, talents. In the 1960s and 1970s, she taught music in the Salisbury City Schools.
Earlier this year, a song Richmond wrote won the Waterworks Visual Arts Center songwriting competition.
The song was a setting for the words of a poem, “I Lay My Stitches Down,” by Cynthia Grady. The artwork of Michele Wood, illustrator of Grady’s book of poems, was on display at Waterworks at the time. Richmond said she bought a copy and found it inspiring.
“Art has always been my hobby,” Richmond said. “I always tried to bring it into the classroom when I taught.”
For “Peace Throughout The World,” Richmond said, she began with a simple pencil drawing of a dove, a symbol of peace.
She added a palm leaf in the dove’s beak, but said the design still lacked something.
“I had a map on the table that I was using for something else,” Richmond said.
On it, the different countries were shown in different colors.
Inspired by this, Richmond said, she added different-colored shapes to represent the idea of one world made up of many different nations and people.
Richmond said she was honored to have her artwork chosen for this year’s card.
“In a way, it took me probably about 50 years to do it, because I’ve been painting all of my life,” Richmond said.
She said that all of her past experience had helped lead her to this winning design.
Proceeds from sales of the holiday cards go to support Rowan Helping Ministries operations, which Foster said cost about $6,000 a day.
“We provide a lot of financial assistance to people, (for) utilities and bills,” Foster said.
In these times, Foster said, one of the agency’s goals is “to help empower people to break free from the cycle of crisis and to become self-sufficient.”
Foster said that the bad economy and other challenges are changing the landscape of poverty in our area.
Right now, Foster said, the agency’s overnight shelter is averaging 62 occupants per night.
“This past weekend, we hit a record when we had more women and children in the shelter than men,” Foster said.
But though the landscape of poverty is changing, support from the community remains strong.
Richmond herself said she has long supported Rowan Helping Ministries.
Steve Drinkard, chairman of the Rowan Helping Ministries board, called Richmond’s design “one of the finest cards we’ve ever had.”
“I think (the message) is incredibly important right now, especially with the polarization we are experiencing in our own country.”
Drinkard said he was proud that Rowan Helping Ministries “pulls in people from every walk of life,” something he said Richmond’s artwork symbolizes.
Foster said the cards will go on sale at area merchants, as well as through Rowan Helping Ministries, with a minimum donation of $5 per card.
For more information, call the Rowan Helping Ministries offices at 704-637-6838.
Contact Hugh Fisher via the editor’s desk at 704-797-4244.