Darin Waters, Ph.D., grew up here in Asheville, but he did not visit the Asheville Art Museum as a young resident. “Most people know I was born and raised here,” Dr. Waters shared, “but I can’t really say even as I was growing up here in Asheville that there was much of a relationship with the Asheville Art Museum, which I think is par for course for the African American community.”
Dr. Waters returned home to Asheville after living away for about 22 years. Now, his life and work are deeply embedded in the region. He works as an Assistant Professor of History and Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Community Outreach and Engagement at UNC Asheville. He also hosts The Waters & Harvey Show on Blue Ridge Public Radio.
“Coming back as an historian…I’ve come to see the important role that the Asheville Art Museum can and will play—and probably has played, though I think the goal is to play a larger role,” Dr. Waters explained. “It has been my time here at UNC Asheville, teaching in the humanities program and using art components, that has enhanced my understanding of the importance of the visual arts in people’s perspectives in their sense of place and attachment, where they fit in in a certain place.”
Dr. Waters offers his perspective as an Asheville native and historian on the Museum’s Luce Project Team. The Henry Luce Foundation American Art Program supports the reinterpretation and reinstallation of the Museum’s Collection, as well as the publishing of the first ever Collection catalogue. “With the Luce Project, there seems to be a real desire to ensure that when the permanent collection is reinstalled, people see themselves in what is represented,” Dr. Waters said, “especially people who are native to this region.”
He’s also excited by an increase in Asheville Art Museum outreach, which is a practice the Museum will be able to continue and grow as the building itself is completed. “There seems to be much more of an effort to connect with other anchor institutions in the city—not working in silos, but working together with the common goal of a better community.”