Visual arts instructor shares artwork with the community

Published on: November 16, 2023
Douglas Cason poses with a photo of the mural he created in Texas.
GTCC visual arts instructor Douglas Cason poses with the mural he created for the Texas Arts and Music Festival in Brenham, Texas in October.

Douglas Cason, visual arts instructor at Guilford Technical Community College for five years, traveled to Texas in late October to share his art with the Brenham, Texas community. Cason attended the Texas Arts and Music Festival, an annual festival that celebrates the arts and donates its proceeds to educational resources that do the same.

Cason used to live in Brenham and was a part of the first festival, and was its co-chair for the festival’s first three years. Though not a founding member himself, Cason worked to help with the annual event by bringing in various mural/street artists, until he moved to North Carolina six years ago.

As his contribution to the art scene in Brenham, Cason painted a large mural, featuring two female faces against a green background, surrounded by floating flower petals. The mural was inspired by a “Stevie Nicks, boho-type spirit,” according to Cason.

“I wanted this kind of community vibe,” explained Cason. “I wanted to do these two girls just kind of standing there looking at the music. It wasn’t until I started putting the images up on the wall that the owner of the establishment came out and said, ‘So, those are your daughters, right?’”

“It wasn’t my intention, but there may have been a little undercurrent there because they grew up there, and they knew everyone, and it was a safe place for them,” said Cason. “And that was kind of the idea. It’s a great little community within this town, and we really saw that as the nucleus that grew downtown into what it is today.”

Cason has also made a significant creative mark on the art scene in his own community, having contributed to 5 murals in Greensboro, Eden, Reidsville, and two in Greenville, SC. When working on the murals, Cason brings his own interests and works with the client to ensure both parties leave happy with the final product.

“A lot of my artwork deals with history, and as an educator, I want people to out go and learn, read, and study,” said Cason. “I hope my artwork at least brings up a conversation.”

Murals, and how to successfully execute them, are a part of Cason’s courses. Students in his Painting II class have the option to do a mural as their final project. Last Spring, Cason worked with some students on a mural for PYP Auto Parts, located near the GTCC Greensboro campus.

“I started asking around, and nobody was teaching how to [create a mural]. I thought, maybe students can benefit from this,” said Cason. “Within the next 10 years or so, Greensboro is going to become a hotspot. Galleries will start opening up, and people will start coming here as a destination,” said Cason, explaining how the art scene in his community is changing to embrace large-scale art, like murals.

As students continue to graduate, he expects they will use what they learn in his class to continue building the art scene in Greensboro.

“I think that [art installations] bring artwork to people that aren’t going to museums,” said Cason, explaining why he believes art pieces in the community are valuable. “I don’t ever want to see a museum go extinct, but it seems like more people are interested in what’s on TV or their phones, and good street art brings art to the masses.”

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