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Theresa Gloster

Theresa Gloster is from Lenoir NC and is a self-taught memory artist whose paintings exuberantly chronicle her childhood years in the small African American community of Bushtown, in North Carolina’s Caldwell County. Born in West Virginia mining camp, Ms. Gloster grew up in the high foothills of North Carolina, where she lived with her grandparents in a household that included twelve children.

More than five decades later, Ms. Gloster still lives in the same community, where her home now served as an informal community center – a site regularly filled with family members and neighborhood children, and with painted memories that grace both hanging canvases and the house’s walls. She says everything is subject to be painted. Her house off Old North Road is a testament to that philosophy, which has guided her art over the years. “Wood, clothes, furniture, dishes, anything that is old, I use to paint on.” 

The paintings gathered here convey stories, chronicling a time of lived community, a time when families worked together to overcome the hardships of segregation and marginalization, a time that Ms. Gloster described as one of collective transcending. The images are neither overly romantic nor overtly critical; instead they’re simply – in Ms. Gloster’s works – “true.”