Waterworks Visual Arts Center

Providing diverse opportunities in the arts for all people through exhibitions, education, & outreach programs.

Meet the Artists of 



The Weight of All That Is

LIZ MCKAY, Plate Tectonics, 16x20, 2019

Liz McKay paused her career to focus on raising her family, and at mid-life found herself challenged to regain her footing as “a creative.” Drawing on personal obstacles and experiences, McKay uses her talent to approach and deal with life as it comes. Creating the paintings in her exhibit is therapeutic for McKay. She features large ovoid stones to represent the weight of current social, political and climate crises. “The scale of these stone-shaped forms, balancing precariously within their surroundings, projects a sense of tension not unlike that which we feel when faced with subjects and situations we’d rather not acknowledge, much less discuss openly for fear of rejection or hostile repercussion,” explains McKay. Her most recent paintings relate to the threat of global climate change, specifically the loss of polar ice. “Still, within these images, the stones are present; the threat of their crushing weight lying just below the surface.”


Sacred Spaces 360°
Documenting the rich history and beautiful spiritual spaces of the Piedmont.

WILL JAMES, First Presbyterian, digital photograph
Will James draws viewers inside the worship sanctuaries of churches in Salisbury and nearby communities with a unique 360° photography process, which took years to discover and master. A 45-year career practicing law for US government agencies in countries with emerging economies sent James across Europe and Central Asia. Camera always in hand, James captured the structures and scenery from his travels, refining his abilities and confidence over time until his amateur photography evolved to a semi-professional level. Inspired by the works of Candida Höfer, a German photographer known for her lifetime of capturing “portraits” of some of the world’s most iconic buildings, James’ current project is to photograph the interior spaces of church sanctuaries throughout Rowan and other Piedmont counties. He does so in a 360° equi-rectangular format. The resulting large-scale photographs – ranging from six to seven by three feet – accomplish a maximum degree of focus, sharpness, and depth of field. A high range of luminosity in the photographs reveals details, both in shadow areas as well as in normally bright areas, such as windows. 


It's in the Genes: A Mother and Daughter Show

PHYLLIS STEIMEL, Old Shed, oil, 11x14, 2019
BETH BARGER, Strawberry Fields/Porter Farms, oil, 24x30, 2018

Colorful and nostalgic paintings, captured en Plein Air by duo PHYLLIS STEIMEL and her daughter BETH BARGER depict landscapes and life of the North Carolina Piedmont region. A Plein Air workshop taken together in Brittany, France launched their painting partnership. Steimel received her art training at Syracuse University, and daughter Barger majored in art at East Carolina University. Carting easels, brushes and paints to favorite locals is their absolute favorite way to share their passion. In addition to France, this pair have painted in New Mexico, Topsail Beach and the North Carolina mountains. Steimel shares her expertise with other Plein Air painters through Plein Air Carolina, of which she is co-founder. Barger sums it up. “From my Grandma, to my Mom, to me, it really is “in the genes….they bring me daily joy.”