Spotlight: Splash of color


Jennifer N. Bell

by Jessie Ammons

The Alice Aycock Poe Center for Health Education is usually brimming with activity: The nonprofit works to educate children and their families about healthy choices, from nutrition to bullying prevention, with interactive activities and memorable programs. It’s the sort of work that requires compelling physical surroundings to capture the interest of young people. Last month, the installation of a colorful, whimsical, educational mural by North Carolina artist Nick Bragg made that job easier and added a jolt of beauty.

Inspired by Bragg’s daughter, Poe Center health educator Susan Bragg Foster, the mural interprets the center’s history and purpose within the larger context of world history. The result is a journey through some 5,000 years, beginning with an ancient Cherokee pot and ending with modern science, all represented through more than 65 symbols (a stem cell denotes modern science, for example).

Bragg says he chose symbolism as a way to make the mural accessible and open to viewer interpretation. “I don’t try to be photo-real in anything,” he says. “I find that very boring.” The Poe Center staff says they appreciate the addition of art that is as celebratory as it is informative. “Everyone who comes in our doors will not only be able to enjoy its beauty,” says the center’s executive director Ann Rollins, “but they will also learn something.” Whether the takeaway is about art, history, health, or a mixture of all three, the mission will be accomplished.

Nick Bragg’s mural was installed just in time for the Poe Center’s 25th anniversary. Learn more at