Dare Coulter discusses the significance of UNCW’s new sculpture

An in-depth look at the process behind the creation of the sculpture titled “Because It’s Time”


Courtesy of UNCW

The artist Dare Coulter shakes hands with Chancellor Sartarelli in front of her piece, “Because It’s Time.”

Kiley Woods, Contributing Writer

On Friday, June 18, UNCW celebrated the unveiling of a new sculpture which will greet students who return for the coming fall semester.    

This sculpture represents the university’s continuous efforts to show support of Black students and faculty, as well as their values of student and faculty diversity and inclusion. The sculpture was created by Dare Coulter a well-known artist who paints and “sculpts her truth” by presenting her story as well as the reality of what the Black community has triumphed over in the past and present day.   

Coulter’s work, mainly paintings, strive to display hope as well as show the truth. Through her art, she seeks to show the connections and growth through pain and joy which are both pieces of the human condition.  

“With everything that happened [in the summer of 2020] with the riots and protests, this piece is a way for me to make sense of it in my own way as well as showing how pain and joy work together which is my goal with a lot of my work,” said Coulter.  

In collaboration with the Office of the Arts, the Office of Institutional Diversity and Inclusion—as well as the Office of the Art’s program Activism for Social Change—and faculty and student input, the university features a Dare Coulter piece with the intention of showing joy.  

Fidias Reyes, the director of arts engagement in the Office of the Arts, worked closely with Coulter on developing the idea as well as finding a home for the sculpture on campus.   

“To make meaningful contributions to the narrative, we plan to render these important histories more visible and accessible to students, faculty, and the professors who will tie this information into their curriculum,” said Reyes.  

With her artistic goal to paint and show Black joy, Coulter’s most accomplished piece at this time is a mural she painted in Greensboro, North Carolina as well as a painting of Nina Simone which was used to raise funds to restore Nina Simone’s home.   

Coulter has illustrated three children’s books besides comprising a book of her work entitled “My NC from A to Z.”  

The sculpture erected on UNCW’s campus is Coulter’s first sculpture to be admired by the public eye, as students, faculty, parents and the general public return to campus this fall to see the sculpture for the first time.  

As a memorial to the 1898 coup and massacre, this piece is titled “Because It’s Time.” The coup was started by white supremacists although, at that time, the coup was said to be a race riot caused by Black civilians of Wilmington.  

“Because It’s Time” holds a double meaning to show the impossibilities as well as the overall societal misappreciation of the Black community, as well as a step toward the truth about the pain, triumph and strength that came with civil rights movements as well as the truth about what really happened during the coup of 1898.   

“This project was planned to take six weeks but ended up taking nine months to complete. The sculpture itself is comprised of multiple sheets and layers and stands 14 feet tall. Fitting this project into the tight budget I had to work with was a challenge because I kept coming up with new additions as well as changes to pieces that already existed,” said Coulter. 

Years later, Americans continue their battle amidst controversy circled around civil rights and Black inclusion. This never-ending civil rights movement continues to grow and draw on its own history to create something beautiful from terrible losses. Coulter says having to start over is the human condition as well as searching for a way to try again.  

“This sculpture is an opportunity for UNCW to express its values: that we are an institution that cares about equity and inclusion,” said Reyes. 

Coulter’s final decision was to create a two-sided piece that shows both love and pain that thrives in the Black community to this day.  

“Art sheds a light on issues that are thorny and uncomfortable, such as systemic racism. Racism exists, but we can confront it, discuss it and be truthful about it. Only then will we be able to trace a path forward,” said Reyes.