“Stepping Out on Faith,” by Charles Joyner

WESTPORT — “The Art and Journey of Charles Joyner,” a showcase for the artist whose journey includes his years at Staples High School, will open March 10 at the Westport Library.

The exhibit will open with a program featuring Joyner in conversation with Trey Ellis, an American Book Award-winning novelist, Emmy- and Peabody-winning filmmaker, playwright and professor.

The program is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, March 10, preceded by a reception at 6:30 p.m.

In 1964, 16-year-old Joyner left his family in North Carolina, and through the American Friends Service Committee’s “Southern Negro Student Program,” came to Westport, according to the library’s announcement for the program.

Charles Joyner / Contributed photo

Living with a local host family, Joyner attended Staples High School, where he was one of five Black students in the Class of 1966. He went on to attend Iowa State University, North Carolina A&T State University, where he earned a BS degree, and the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, where he earned a master’s in fine arts.

He is now a professor of design at North Carolina Central University and North Carolina State University.

For more information about Joyner and his art, click here.

“Cape Coastal Castle #11,” by Charles Joyner

Joyner and Ellis will be joined in the discussion by Bonnyeclarie Smith Stewart, the founder and executive director of 4 Million Voices, a nonprofit that researches, documents and publishes accounts of the lives of African Americans.

Smith Stewart, like Joyner, participated in the Southern Negro Student Program, leaving her family in Birmingham, Ala., to live with a family in Norwalk, where she attended Norwalk High School. She later earner her college degree from Sarah Lawrence College.

In conjunction with the Westport Library’s Verso Studios, Smith Stewart has co-produced a series of podcasts featuring conversations with the people and places that influenced Joyner’s life and art, with the intersection of the civil rights years.

“As a storyteller myself, I am proud to be right here in Westport to help ignite the conversation around the impact that the Southern Negro Student Program, and other related programs, had on racial identify, social justice and education — and the hard work we all still have to do,” Ellis  said in the library’s program announcement.

The Joyner exhibit will continue at the library through June 5.

For more information, visit the Westport Library website or call 203-291-4800.