North Carolina Native Americans inspire Campbell alum

Buies Creek, N.C.—Since Campbell alumnus Stephen Ellis Greer (’63) first put crayon to wall as a three-year-old, he knew he had the soul of a painter. But it was at North Carolina Indian Pow Wow that Greer discovered his true subject matter. Greer’s paintings of North Carolina’s rich Native American heritage are currently on display in the University’s E.P. Sauls Gallery of the Taylor Bott Rogers Rogers Fine Arts Center through Feb. 16.

 “I can never remember a time when I wasn’t involved with art,” Greer said. “But the first time I attended an Indian Pow Wow, there it all was. I knew then that I was going to paint these Native Americans. Sometimes an artist’s muse comes up and taps him on the shoulder, but mine assaulted me.”  

The collection is inspired by Native American regalia and dance, which are recreated from history, myth and legend. They represent the traditions and memories of the Pow Wows of the Haliwa-Saponi, Lumbee, Waccamaw-Siouan and Occaneechi-Saponi tribes.

Greer paints his Native American subjects in acrylic paint, not oils.

 “Acrylics aren’t as forgiving as oils,” he said. “Acrylics cause you to make decisions fast, because they dry so quickly. That keeps me from overworking an area until it turns muddy.”

Nothing about Greer’s work could be said to be muddy or dull, however. His paintings vibrate with intense color and movement.

 “With this collection, I hope I’ve expressed the pride and joy these people take in their heritage and each other,” Greer said. “For me, they whisper the simple yet profound message that, though Native Americans have endured some of the worst that history could mete out, they have emerged as vibrant and beautiful as ever.”

 Greer has participated in exhibitions at the Community Council for the Arts in Kinston, N.C.; the Beaufort County Council for the Arts (One Man Show) in Washington, N.C., the Artists’ Gallery at Lumina Station in Wilmington, N.C., the Craven Arts Council and Gallery in New Bern, N.C. and Nicole’s Studio and Gallery in Raleigh, among others.

Among other honors, his work has been recognized by the Coastal Carolina Community College Public Art Show, Best in Show, first place; the Onslow Art Society’s Images 2008 Show, second place; and the Kinston Plein Air Paint Out Competition, second place. His collections have also been exhibited at James Sprunt Community College, the Seaside Art Gallery at Nags Head, N.C. Duke Raleigh Hospital and the Community Council for the Arts, permanent collection, in Kinston, N.C.

“I love to express myself in drawing and painting,” Greer said. “Life and art engage me fully in the evolution of growing and learning.”

Greer has taught painting at James Sprunt Community College in Kenansville, N.C. He is a resident of Jacksonville, N.C.

Campbell’s E.P. Sauls Gallery is open from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Admission is free.


Photo Copy: “Blue Sky,” a painting by Campbell University alumnus Stephen Greer, is one of a collection of paintings of North Carolina’s Native American culture currently on display at Campbell University.