Students from Richard J. Reynolds High School created these artworks inspired by Doug Ashford's "Next Day" collection, created in response to the attacks on 9/11

Doug Ashford is a teacher, artist, and writer who has worked at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art since 1989. His "Next Day" collection is featured at the "Dispatches" Show and is made up of newspaper articles published immediately following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. This project came over a decade after the attacks occurred and allows Americans to reflect on the trauma years later and how the events have been abstracted. 

I wanted to share with you the experience my students had with the Douglas Ashford exhibit at SECCA recently. My digital art class at Reynolds High School was one of classes that sat in on a presentation given by Doug here at the school, coordinated by Debbie Randolph from SECCA and Karen Morris our Magnet School Director. I was familiar with the Dispatches exhibit that opened at SECCA and was looking forward to seeing the work from various photographers, but when Karen invited my class to hear Doug's presentation, I along with the students were super impressed and emotionally stimulated. The next class day, the same students visited SECCA to see more of Ashford's work first hand. I could tell right then that I needed to follow up with a project when we got back to the classroom. I didn't have to give a lot of directions to the students, I placed a pile of newspapers on the table and asked them to find an image/article that evoked an emotion, and to interpret their feelings in a style similar to Doug Ashford's work. Within seconds the students were digging through the papers then beginning to create. I was totally impressed by their artwork and wanted to share it with you at SECCA. The success of this project was the whole "package" experience that you offered to my students. The ability for students to meet the artist in person, and hear from them why they created this work, is amazing in itself. Then to have a gallery right in Winston Salem where our students are invited to visit the artist's exhibit just added to the credibility of this lesson. This was truly an amazing experience that has touched so many students and I thank you for that opportunity.

Phil Benenati

Reynolds High School

Visual Arts Department