Former faculty member Cochran presents “Testify: Beyond Place”

{Note from the Editor: This story has been updated with corrected information.}

The Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University hosted a reception for the work of former WCU faculty member and founding curator of the Affrilachian Artist Project Marie Cochran.

Cochran’s piece, “Testify: Beyond Place,” was featured with a public reception Thursday, April 25, from 5-7 p.m.

The piece celebrates the presence of the African American community that is located in Western North Carolina. Homage is paid to the 120th anniversary of the Mt. Zion AME Zion Church in Cullowhee. The piece consisted of wall drawings and sculptures as well as a film. Cochran collaborated on the film with Kevin Slamon, a 2012 Western Carolina University graduate.

Current members of the Mt. Zion AME Zion Church were present at the reception, as well as Rev. Herbert Grant, the current reverend of the church. The sisters of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated were the hostesses for the event.

“We are few in numbers, but we have a great history,” said Grant as he thanked Cochran for her work.

Mt. Zion AMC Zion Church was originally located where Robertson Residence Hall currently stands. The church is now located on Old Cullowhee Road.

The Fine Art Museum suffered some recent water damage, so Cochran’s piece had to be moved to a large lecture hall in the Bardo Arts Center. All the other artwork is undamaged as well.

“The movie is really the heart and soul of the piece,” said Cochran.

The reception opened with a performance by The Three Arrows, a group of siblings from Dahlonega, Ga. They opened with “GourdSongs.”

After their performance, Cochran took to the microphone.

“I’m just really happy to be here,” opened Cochran.

She thanked The Three Arrows for coming to perform and read a poem as her opening remarks. Cochran also read what is written on a plaque dedicated to the Mt. Zion AMC Zion church that is located outside Robertson.

Following her was a member of WCU’s Truthwriters, a group of spoken word poets that delve into intellectual activism and issues of diversity and social justice.

Sam Fox was the member who read his poems. Fox used to live in Reynolds, the dorm located across from Robertson. He knew of the plaque that Cochran spoke of and was connected with what she was doing.

He read two poems; the first was a story about hands and how we are all connected by touch. The second was titled “Anthropology” and was Cochran’s favorite. The poem told how in our bones we are all the same, yet we all treat each other differently.

After Fox finished, Cochran spoke again about her piece.

“This piece is meant to open up conversation,” said Cochran regarding her film.

After the film, there was another performance by The Three Arrows and a group called the Ubuntu Choir of the Great Smoky Mountains, translated to mean “I am who I am because of my relation with you.” The choir is part of a global group.

For more information on the Affrilachian Artist Project, contact Cochran at 828-226-4166. If you wish to view the film, it is posted here: