Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem

Winston-Salem is the city of arts, expression, and creativity. So it is only right for art museums and galleries to pop up in nearly every direction here. Art brings life, color, and personality to an environment, and Winston-Salem has so much contemporary art to offer.


Contemporary art is an elusive term which is hard to pin down because it’s open to many interpretations, especially by contemporary artists themselves. The best way to define contemporary art is by example: abstract, surrealistic painting, sculpture, photography, installation, performance, and video art.

This avenue of art expresses what is going on in today’s world. It showcases the modern-day political climate, the heart and soul of humankind, social conflict, history and culture, collective idealism, and so many other various representations.

Winston-Salem is drenched with art! And with numerous local artists submitting their original work to local art galleries, the wealth of poignant, eye-catching art is perpetual. Below are some of the best local art galleries in Winston.


What an honor to be a resident of the city in which such an art center was born! The Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) opened in 1956 with a vision of giving artists of the southeastern states some exposure for their talents. SECCA offers contemporary art in the forms of visual art, dance, theater, music, and even lectures. It was founded on the idea that the community of Winston needed additional space where local artists could display their talents.  SECCA is free and open to the public, with various types of events ranging from social gatherings to viewing films!


The Piedmont Craftsmen, Inc. center is a shop with inventory provided by local artists, crafters, and collectors of fine art pieces. They focus on both traditional art and contemporary art with a mission to give an audience—of all ages—educational and instructional opportunities to find the awaiting artist inside of them. Fascinating fact: Piedmont Craftsmen, Inc. represents nearly 400 of the most gifted artisans! This organization offers creations of clay, glass, wood, jewelry, photography, media, and more!


Home of the Art for Art’s Sake (AFAS) group, this gallery holds the mission to “build, educate, and celebrate community through art.” This is a volunteer-based nonprofit that helps develop new and aspiring artists through the use of student scholarships and artist mentoring. They have events that are free and open to the public.


Contemporary with a plethora of art media such as glass, clay, 2D works, and fiber, Visual Index focuses on featuring an especially talented artist from each state while putting a heavier emphasis on North Carolina art.


Founded upon the mission to support and celebrate aspiring artists, whether new or experienced, AAWS gives exhibition opportunities to contemporary artists of all levels of expertise. Their artists participate in national competitions, and are also featured in venues all across Winston-Salem such as Jeffery Adams restaurant, Tropical Smoothie Café, Crisis Control Ministry, and The Winston-Salem Chronicle. All exhibitions are free and open to the public, and most of the displayed artwork is for sale!


This gallery is flooded with unique, intricate artwork that is often difficult to decipher…but that’s the beauty of art, right? Found on Wake Forest’s campus, the Charlotte & Phillip Hanes Art Gallery focuses mainly on contemporary art, but also throws in some historical works as well. This gallery’s goal is for people to deeply engage with their collections and fully experience their artwork. And, yes, they are also open and free to the public!


The Diggs Gallery at WSSU is a natural standout with contemporary and striking African and African-American artwork. Not only was this gallery dubbed as one of the top ten African-American galleries in the nation, but the Smithsonian also recognized it as one of the best facilities showcasing black art! This is one of the largest spaces in North Carolina dedicated to presenting black art. It is also a teaching facility and a community center. This gallery’s artwork is stunning, truthful, historical, and enlightening.

So come on out and be inspired and enlightened by the contemporary art of Winston-Salem.



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