Liberty Arts is a nonprofit arts community whose collaborative practice reflects the dynamic personality of Durham, North Carolina. Our mission is to expand access to three-dimensional art and share the skills required to make it. All are welcome to take part through hands-on classes, public events, mentorships, and commissions.
Liberty Arts believes in community outreach and encourages visionary thinking.
What is Liberty Arts?
Founded in 2001, Liberty Arts serves an an incubator in which artists work together to teach, learn, and inspire. All artists also take on public and private commissions, in addition to exhibiting and selling their work at the Liberty Arts Gallery in the Cordoba Center for the Arts.
What is a Foundry?
A foundry is a place in which metal (typically aluminum, bronze, or iron) is melted in a furnace and then poured into prepared molds. Liberty Arts runs a foundry located in The George Watts Hill Pavilion for the Arts in Durham’s Central Park, at which you can routinely find artists preparing molds or pouring molten metal.
Where did Liberty Arts get its name?
For the first 10 years after it’s founding, Liberty Arts Studio was housed in the historic Liberty Warehouse. This 200,000 square foot building was built in the late 1930s with additions in the early 1940s, and served as a thriving tobacco auction and warehouse for over 40 years. Though the last tobacco auction was held in 1984, Liberty Warehouse was destined for a new life housing artists and non-profits, including Liberty Arts and The Scrap Exchange. However, the spring of 2011 was particularly rainy, and the roof of the warehouse finally succumbed to age and neglect on May 14th. The building was condemned, the tenants relocated, and the future of this historic landmark remains unclear.
Where can I see Liberty Arts in Durham?
Nearly everyday, artists are working in the studio located in the Cordoba Center for the Arts at 923 Franklin Street, behind the Golden Belt complex. Check the calendar to see if there’s a metal pour at the foundry in the George Watts Hill Pavilion adjacent to the Farmer’s Market or if a class is being taught at either of our locations. If you’d like to see the works produced at Liberty Arts, be sure to stop by the Gallery at the Franklin Street location. Some of the pieces cast at Liberty Arts are also visible in downtown Durham including, “Major” the Bull in the CCB Plaza and the historical markers on Parrish Street, both designed and created by Michael Waller and Leah Foushee Waller. Many of the artists also exhibit their work at local galleries, and you can find more information on the artist pages.
How can I get involved?
There are many ways that you can support Liberty Arts! You can take a class from one (or more) of the many talented artists – check out the class page for more information on what’s being offered in the future. Swing by the Foundry during the Farmer’s Market to learn about the foundry process, and then be sure to mark your calendar with the date of the next metal pour. We try to participate in each Third Friday Arts Celebration, add us to the list of places you visit. Be sure to stop by the Liberty Arts Gallery at 923 Franklin Street to admire or purchase the many pieces on display. Finally, if you’d like, you can always Donate to further our goals of sharing art with the public in Durham.