Art meets literature in Suffolk Center’s newest exhibit

Published 1:11 pm Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Everyone has a story, and these stories all have something in common — they all start from nothing and develop their individual narrative. 

The Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts will share a new collaborative art exhibition that brings together the literary artist and the visual artist to pictorially develop a compelling story in a unique new art exhibition, ‘Everyone Has a Story.’ 

In a news release, SCCA invites the community to meet the writers and artists during the free opening reception on Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023, from 5:30 p.m. until 7 p.m. The exhibit will be on displayfrom Dec. 14, 2023, through Feb. 3, 2024, Tuesdays — Saturdays 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., and admission is free. 


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 The journey in presenting this exhibition was different from the other exhibits, the release said. For this exhibition, there were two things at play, the first being the gathering of authors to provide literary works and the second being the gathering of visual artists. 

 ‘I reached out to many writing organizations; some of these groups include the Chesapeake Bay Writers, Smithfield Writers Group, Virginia Writers Group, Mystery Writers of America, The Isle of Wight Writers Group, and the Hampton Roads Writers,” Suffolk Center’s Gallery Coordinator Brittany Waller said. “Members of these organizations submitted short stories, poems, and excerpts from larger bodies of work. Once the literary works were collected, I contacted various visual artists to get an idea as to who would be interested in participating. Surprisingly, an overwhelming number of visual artists were interested. I then began to read each literary work to find out which pairing would be best for both the visual artist and the author.

 The visual artists then received the literary work to provide depth and a different perspective to the story. 

In one case, the visual artist was so engrossed in the subject matter that they interpreted the story in many variations. After pairing each visual artist with a literary work, some artists were interested in contacting the authors to hone in on the story and see how they visualized the artwork. 

 One visual artist, Rick Seguso, stated, “I had to think out of the box and move out of my comfort zone. After reading Debbie Burke’s story book ‘Klezmer for the Joyful Soul’ (Klezmer is Jewish folk music), an account of what her uncle shared about her family’s immigration to the United States, I thought how similar it was to my own family heritage, only mine were Italian, and Debbie’s are Jewish.’ Rick and Debbie have had many spirited conversations about the process, and says she is thrilled with the finished painting, the artwork also entitled ‘Klezmer for the Joyful Soul.’

According to the release, the piece turned out so well that it has already been purchased. The purchaser lives in South Florida and is considering coming to the opening reception at the Center on Dec. 14, 2023. 

 “Suffolk Center is proud to work with the following talented Writers and Artists to share their visions and bring ‘Everyone Has A Story’ to life,” the release said. “This exhibition features over 30 pieces of artwork in various mediums including painting, beaded work, and mixed media. The visual artwork will be displayed alongside each inspirational writing passage to give the viewer a contextual connection for each collaboration.”

Participating writers include:

  • Adam Clayton — Williamsburg   
  • Ann Woleben — Suffolk 
  • Brenda Hale — Norfolk
  • Dean Anderson — Smithfield
  • Debbie Burke — Virginia Beach
  • Diane Kelly — Hillsborough, North Carolina                          
  • Heather Brown Barrett
  • Kimberly Thorn — Chesapeake
  • Lauran Strait — Virginia Beach
  • Linda Hallam — Williamsburg
  • Marilyn Barton — Virginia Beach
  • Pamela Brothers Denyes — Norfolk
  • Peter Stipe — Williamsburg
  • R.Martin Basden
  • Skip Keith — Knotts Island, North Carolina
  • Sonja McGiboney — Gadsden, Alabama
  • Tonya Swindell — Suffolk
  • Marva Parker — Suffolk
  • Sandy Robinette — Norfolk

Participating Visual Artists:

  • Angie Salerno — Suffolk
  • Rick Seguso — Norfolk
  • Debbie Hobbs — Suffolk
  • Gayle Pipkin — Winton, North Carolina
  • Jama Watts — Hampton
  • Barbara Anne Harris — Suffolk
  • Val Parnell — Va. Beach
  • Patricia Outland — Suffolk
  • Regina Deval — Suffolk
  • Gordon Jones — Suffolk
  • Valerie Johnson — Smithfield
  • Nancy Sanders — Suffolk
  • Bonnie G. Byrum — Suffolk
  • Jorge A. Saenz — Virginia Beach
  • Daniel Goodwin — Hampton
  • Laura Schmidt — Chesapeake
  • Karen Sallaz — Suffolk
  • Karen Spaulding — Hampton
  • Angel Jones — Portsmouth
  • Carol Heischober — Virginia Beach
  • Elizabeth Jones — Carrollton
  • Kay Kerr — Carrollton
  • Mona Cunnikin — Suffolk
  • Nancy Dempsey — Suffolk
  • Sandy Waters — Suffolk
  • Tammy Burgett — Smithfield
  • Tonya Hopson — Norfolk
  • Red Lagoe — Virginia Beach 
  • Grace Fletcher — Portsmouth 

The Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts is located at 110 W. Finney Ave, in historic downtown Suffolk, in the Towne Bank Gallery. This event is free and open to the public. 

For additional information, please visit or call 757.923.0003.