Painting of Shirley Whitesides by Joseph Pearson

Painting of Shirley Whitesides by Joseph Pearson

Art Exhibition by Joseph A. Pearson

“Women of Distinction: If you can see it, you can be it.”

The Delta House Life Development of Asheville, Inc. is presenting an art exhibit of works by Joseph A. Pearson to celebrate Racial Healing through the Arts. The exhibit opened on March 21, 2021, celebrating Women’s History Month at Delta House on S. French Broad Avenue. The show will continue through May 10, 2021, when it will move to the YMI Cultural Center (May 17 – June 21, 2021), and to other venues well into the summer. The show is open to the public free of charge.

“My project may best describe how I pay homage to my last living aunt, Mrs. Lucille Randolph, who recently passed away at 98 years old; my mother, Vine Marie Pearson; and my aunt Minnie Mack, the preacher,” said Joseph Pearson. “These women nurtured me and encouraged me in a life of service and its many unsung heroines. These were women who worked hard in the home and service to their communities using their innate gifts in service to others.”

Pearson explains, “My gift is making art, and it is through this avenue that I strive to make a difference. Through this body of work, I want to recognize, celebrate, and honor many professional women in the Asheville community and beyond and provide a platform from which these successful women can speak to and encourage younger women and girls in the pursuit of their dreams. These women bring years of experience and expertise in various fields that young women and girls can draw from as they strive to reach their potential as contributing members of our society.”

Strong women portrayed

Portraits in the show include those of locally and internationally recognized women including: Carol Anders, Casey Arbor, Cortina Janelle Caldwell, Debra Campbell, Cleaster Cotton, Virginia Derryberry, Octavia Dunlap, Hedy Fischer, Kamala Harris, Esther Manheimer, Elizabeth McCorvey, Brenda Mills, Michelle Obama, Miriam Pearson, Gael Perry-Pearson, Jenny Pickens, Lucille Randolph, Hanan Shabazz, Bianca White, and Shirley W. Whitesides.

Nearly everyone has experienced the arts’ power to heal and unite us, from joyful tears that flow while listening to an emotional poetry reading or gospel, spirituals, jazz, and or soul music, to the discomfort of watching a one-act play depicting domestic abuse. Artists often are, and should be, influential community leaders. They know and feel the emotional pulses of their neighborhood, and they can translate that to a mural, a play, a protest song, or a poem that calls people together, gives hope, and provides a path forward.

Community mural project

That, according to the artist and leaders of Delta House, is the goal of this exhibit. To that end, Joseph Pearson will work with Delta House’s students on a mural project that promotes racial healing by learning about African America History and traditions, focusing on art and jazz. Other youths in the community are welcome to join. Jazz musicians Gary Bradley and Clifford W. Cotton II are working with Delta House Jazz Band to produce or play the music that depicts the need for racial healing.

“We can help build racial equity in housing, criminal justice, education, jobs, the environment, and more,” says Shirley Whitesides of Delta House. “Our Racial Healing grant from the City of Asheville will help heal our community through the arts by providing art and jazz for the community. We can help build racial equity in housing, criminal justice, education, jobs, the environment, and more. Delta House’s focus is to help bring racial healing our community through the arts.”

The upstairs gallery at Delta House is open 2:30 – 5:30 p.m., Monday – Friday, and by appointment on Saturday.

For more information, contact: Shirley Whitesides at (828) 230-9192 or email: Or


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