Artists thrive on inspiration. We’re always scouring the web and our local communities for new ways to be motivated. For 2018, the Engage Art Contest is running exclusively in the Carolinas, before expanding to an international contest in 2019. We’re looking forward to seeing the submission (deadline September 30, 2018!), since the Carolinas are brimming with inspiration and creative people.

Charlotte is one of the fastest growing cities in the country, jam-packed with public art and expressive architecture to stir your creativity. Charlotte, Charleston, Columbia, and Raleigh all house a multitude of impressive museums. Here are just a few you should consider visiting as you prepare to create your entry for the Engage Art contest.

The North Carolina Museum of Art

Located in beautiful Raleigh, North Carolina, this museum is a 4.5-star attraction on TripAdvisor and U.S, News gives it 4.6 stars.. Fresh off new renovations, their diverse collection spans over 5,000 years, containing diverse and commended pieces. Besides an astounding art collection, the museum boasts a large amphitheater and over 164 acres of trails where you can take in both temporary and permanent public artworks. The architecture is stunning.

Admission to the museum is free. The current You Are Here: Light, Color and Sound Experiences exhibit (on view until July 22, 2018, $15/adult) about the intersection of darkness and light may be of interest as you ponder the Spiritual Battle. It includes immersive work by a number of contemporary giants and up-and-comers, as well as the museum’s new acquisition of Yayoi Kusama “infinity room” called Light of Life.  For more information or to plan your visit:

Gibbes Museum of Art

The Gibbes Museum, located in Charleston, SC, ($15/adult, $10 student, $6 ages 4-17) hosts at least a half dozen special exhibits a year, along with several galleries dedicated to their permanent collection. The permanent collection features American art from the 18th century to the present. An unusual permanent exhibit contains twig-and-branch, site-specific, interactive willow sculpture by Patrick Dougherty, whose work is typically sited outdoors and meant to degrade overtime. The museum says they aim to connect the city’s artistic past to a vibrant contemporary art scene.

Their current temporary exhibits include:

  • Vanishing Charleston, which “examines the evolving landscape of the city, including several buildings that no longer exist, through the work of eight artists.” Through October 21, 2018.
  • An installation by internationally renowned painter, sculptor, and mixed media artist Radcliffe Bailey called Pensive. Bailey is know for layering “imagery, culturally resonant materials, and text to explore the themes of ancestry, race, and memory.” Through September 16, 2018.

Both of these exhibits are likely to provide excellent inspiration for an Engage Art submission.

In addition, you can view images of both the permanent collections and the temporary exhibits on their website. Plan your visit here:

Columbia Museum of Art

The Columbia Museum of Art is currently undergoing extensive renovations, during which the upstairs galleries are closed to protect their fabulous permanent collection. There are two rooms open to visitors during this time. To compensate,admission is half-priced until Fall 2018 ($6/adult), and  they have free admission on 2nd Sundays (courtesy of BlueCross Blue Shield of South Carolina).

Through July 22, 2018, they are featuring a temporary retrospective exhibit of paintings by early 20th century impressionist Jane Peterson, whose work is compared to Mary Cassat. Beginning mid-August, a temporary exhibit of oversized art by Katie Pell will explore “the beauty in imperfection and the humor in insecurities.”

They also have a great online experience where you can see past exhibits and hear recorded commentary:

Plan your visit here:


Reynolda House Museum of American Art

In Winston-Salem, you can explore the 1917 mansion and village developed by R.J.and Katherine Reynolds ($18/adult; under 18, military ID, student ID, or Wake Forest ID is free). This was the Reynolds’ primary residence for five years, and many of the furnishings Katherine chose remain in place. Nestled in the historic home are three centuries of exemplary American art.

Besides taking in the art collection and featured exhibition (through the end of 2018, Postmodernism), trails and formal gardens will give you a place to reflect. Wake Forest University, now affiliated with the museum, can be accessed through the wooded trails.

If you don’t live close to the Reynolda House, their website is a fantastic resource. Much of the collection is available to see online:

Plan your visit here:

Florence County Museum

The small but elegant Florence County Museum (free) includes both history exhibits and 20th Century Southern art., Along with selections from their permanent collection, they are currently hosting a temporary exhibit of  Women of the Black Mountain College (through July 22, 2018). With over 100 works representing Southern art, artifacts, a wealth of outdoor space, and a beautiful new building, you’ll find plenty to inspire you.

Families will be especially interested in Print Detectives, an interactive exhibit for all ages. It “explores the wide variety of printmaking processes exhibited throughout the Florence County Museum, along with tools and techniques used in each.”

Plan your visit here:


Cameron Art Museum

In Wilmington, NC, the intimate Cameron Art Museum ($10/adult; 16 and under free) boasts exhibit space as well as a fruit grove, nature trails, picnic areas, and an Art Park.

The current “State of the Art/Art of the State” exhibit runs through July 12 and features contemporary art exclusively by North Carolina natives and residents. Continuing with the North Carolina focus, their North Carolina Arts Council Artist Fellowship 2017 Award Exhibition will be on view through August 5.

Plan your visit here:

Are you ready to be inspired? To consider how viewing excellent art might influence and motivate you to create an excellent entry for the Engage Art Contest? The Engage Art pilot contest is running through September 2018 in the Carolinas and open ONLY to musicians, videographers, and visual artists residing in the Carolinas — and International version of the contest will run in 2019. But if you are an artist in Carolinas, now is the time! Submit your piece of artwork informed by Ephesians 6:10-20 for a chance to win cash prizes, exposure, and more. Submit now.

If you have any questions on how to create a submission for our contest, please click here.