The Bascom Winter Resident Artist Program, better known as the W.R.A.P., calls on Students or Faculty from the surrounding universities to submit site-specific installation proposals for The Bascom’s unique and beautiful Thompson Gallery.

Our Winter Resident Artist: Colin Dawson

The Bascom's annual theme of Place prompted our W.R.A.P. resident artist, Colin Dawson, to use castings of excavated land to create sculptural forms that offer a critical look at the relationships between Appalachia's land, people, and history. 

Through a lens that links past and present physical realities, Dawson explores what lies beneath the surface of the land, the hidden beneath the dramatic, compelling topography of the southern mountains, which people have settled and resettled over time. 

"The site-specific pieces were chosen because of their intersections between the people, the land, institutions, and their historical and cultural significance. But, at the heart of each piece is the relationship between people and the land in Appalachia. The natural beauty draws people from far and wide and has come to shape the culture and economy of this mountain region. Yet, its history is rife with tensions seen through displacement, exploitation, and the looming presence of Manifest Destiny within the American psyche. As we further understand the impacts of these constructs on the people and land, we are collectively moving towards acknowledgement, reconciliation, conservation, and inclusion. 

The works presented here offer a sculptural response to the tensions between land, place, recognition, and inclusion. Dawson seeks sites of beauty, history and culture, and draws on the characteristics of the place to determine the intent and form of its corresponding piece. Once he has determined a form for his work, he creates, a negative of the final form by excavating the ground. The negative form is then refined and receives a surface treatment of mark-making using a variety of digging tools, found objects, and his own hands. A plaster mixture is then poured into the negative form and further shaped as it sets. 

The results of the artist's process are shared here in four site-generated sculptures that recognize the tensions embedded in the land we inhabit, at the intersections of the material and the cultural dimensions of experience. 

Special thanks to Lance Hardin at The Highlands Historical Society for valuable information and the support of the entire Bascom team. I encourage you to write down any names of people or places you find interesting for you own further research."

-- Colin Dawson 

Colin Dawson is a Master of Fine Art candidate at Western Carolina University and a resident of Sylva, NC. He works across the disciplines of sculpture, painting, drawing, installation, and conceptual art forms. 

The Bascom Winter Resident Artist Program, better known as the W.R.A.P., calls on Students or Faculty from the surrounding universities to submit site-specific installation proposals for The Bascom's unique and beautiful Thompson Gallery. Students and faculty from across the southeast apply for this unique and challenging opportunity to live and work on The Bascom campus to design, build, and install their project proposal in only four weeks.

The W.R.A.P. is designed to accommodate the Winter Break schedules of artists enrolled in degree programs or Higher Education instruction. Students and faculty from across the southeast apply for this unique and challenging opportunity to live and work on The Bascom campus to design, build, and install their project proposal in only four weeks.

 A free, public reception will be held Friday, February 25th at 5pm at The Bascom to celebrate our three current winter exhibitions.

Image Credit: Colin Dawson, “Topography Study at Entrance to The Bascom”, 2022