“Progress is not built on forgetting — progress is built on understanding,” said Ting Li, creative director of local creative agency Pixelatoms.

That’s why Li, 32, his volunteer partners and Gallery Twenty-Two are hosting an art event to help the city better understand Charlotte’s history — and raise funds to save a piece of it.

The July 8 art event “Awaken: Saving the Queen City” at Gallery Twenty-Two will feature works by local artists related to Charlotte history, plus illustrations of local historic landmarks by Pixelatoms. It will raise funds to save the 1920s-era Siloam Rosenwald School, which educated African-American children during the Jim Crow era.

“Awaken” will support The Charlotte Museum of History’s effort called the Save Siloam School Project. The Museum’s goal is to move the school about 10 miles south from its original location near UNC Charlotte to the museum’s campus at 3500 Shamrock Drive in east Charlotte. Once relocated, the school would be restored, filled with exhibits on local African-American history and opened for daily tours.

Siloam School

Li first heard about the Save Siloam School Project through Dan Morrill of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission. She was actually inspired to create the nonprofit arm of Pixelatoms, called Built City, during her conversation with him about various ongoing preservation projects in Charlotte. Built City is an illustration project that produces fine art prints and other physical products depicting historical places, with proceeds from the sale of these products going toward preservation efforts. See a sampling and shop the store here.

“We’re in the storytelling business and none of that can exist without exploring history and what became before us,” Li said.

Proceeds from Built City products sold this year will go toward the Save Siloam School Project.

“It’s an integral part of our history, not only of Charlotte, of North Carolina, but of the South,” Li said of the school.

With the upcoming arts show, she hopes the works will evoke a visual, emotional response to further people’s understanding of what has been part of Charlotte before the city boomed with development.

Built City’s entire illustration library will be available for purchase as archival art prints, while a diamond “Key to Historic Preservation” pendant (donated by Diamonds Direct) will be auctioned off. Donations can also be made here.

On a larger scale, Li wants people to add “personal giving” to their vocabulary.

“We can all get involved,” Li said.

She especially wants to see her Millennial generation step up.

“As the city’s next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs, we want to be actively involved in preserving Charlotte’s past and its voices and stories,” she said in a press release. “We can’t afford to silence them.”

Be there: “Awaken: Saving the Queen City”

When: Saturday, July 8, 7 p.m.–midnight. Gallery doors open at 5 p.m.

Cost: Free to attend. Art will be for sale.

Where: Gallery Twenty-Two, 1500 A Central Ave., at the corner of Central and Pecan, in the heart of Plaza Midwood.Public parking is available at the corner of Thomas and Central Avenue.

Photos: Pixelatoms|Built City, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission

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