Plan Your Spring Outings: Where Art Meets Nature

Wild daffodils at Carolina North Forest.Photo by Pamir Kiciman.


By Pamir Kiciman

After an unseasonably warm winter, spring seems to have arrived early as evidenced by the blooming of daffodils just about everywhere. Another harbinger of spring is the Lenten rose popping up along woodland trails, together with creekside trout lilies, violets and spring beauties.


Just like the beautiful display nature is putting on, art offerings in the area are strong and diverse.


Here are a few options to explore for the intellectually and culturally curious, some of which are about the relationship between art and nature or those that offer a nature outing on the grounds or nearby. A few are about our fluctuating climate and how it’s reflected in art.


Coincidentally, Gov. Roy Cooper declared 2023 as North Carolina’s Year of the Trail. There’s even a dedicated website offering many resources to outdoor enthusiasts.


In town and nearby


The North Carolina Botanical Gardens has two exhibitions coming up in its Arthur S. DeBerry Gallery that features botanical art. The gallery is perfect for viewing two-dimensional nature-based works of art. Chock-full of natural wonders to see and learn about, the gardens also include Piedmont Nature Trails.


Did you know the Ackland Art Museum has a film series? On March 28, you can attend The Last Forest. With an introduction by Dr. Gustavo Furtado, the film shows the members of the Indigenous Yanomami community of Brazil struggling to preserve their way of life in the face of climate change. Free tickets are available on the evening of the screening at the landmark Varsity Theatre on Franklin Street.


As usual there are a lot of events and classes at Carrboro’s ArtsCenter, but perhaps the biggest news is that it will move to a new state-of-the-art facility at 400 Roberson Street, with a soft opening in August. Get all the details here and consider attending its Imagine More gala on April 15th at the Haw River Ballroom in Saxapahaw.

Before the gala, however, in early April at the ArtsCenter, Killian Manning’s dance company No Forwarding Address will bring its When the Stars Lose Their Light evening-length performances April 7 and 8. An unusual aspect of the dance is that it includes five selections of text, four poems and an excerpt from a play. “Using text and movement creates a third language, where bodies and words intersect, juxtapose, contrast, enhance and enlighten,” Manning said.


The 9th annual Freight Train Blues series is back May 5-June 23 with eight free Friday evening concerts at Carrboro Town Commons. Featuring musicians versed in the traditions of the Carolina Piedmont, the concert series celebrates the life and legacy of Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten, born in 1893 in Carrboro. In 2022, Cotten was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.


Easy half-day trips (neighboring cities) 

The new contemporary art exhibition Spirit in the Land at Duke University’s Nasher Museum of Art is on view through July 9. Described on its website as an “exhibition that examines today’s urgent ecological concerns from a cultural perspective, demonstrating how intricately our identities and natural environments are intertwined,” the Nasher Museum of Art is free to the public. Learn about the other exhibitions currently on view and see here for visiting information. There is available paid parking.


While there, you can visit Duke Gardens, about a two-minute drive or eight-minute walk away.


According to its website, the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA) in Raleigh offers, “changing special exhibitions, classes, lectures, family activities, films, dance performances, and concerts.” The museum is unique in that it has extensive grounds dotted with large-scale sculptures, showcasing the connection between art and nature. The 164-acre park also accesses nearby trails and in the spring is covered in wildflowers. You can bring a picnic and lawn chairs, or there is some comfortable seating available.


Easy one-day trips (Triad area)


Greensboro is home to the Weatherspoon Art Museum. Roughly 45-60 minutes away, with free admission and parking, the museum is part of UNC-Greensboro. There are six galleries and a sculpture courtyard with over 17,000 square feet of exhibition space. Learn about the current exhibitions and events through May 2023. See here for location and visiting information.


Drive to Winston-Salem to visit the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA), which is affiliated with NCMA. About an hour-and-a-half away, it focuses on regional working artists. Located on the 32-acre verdant estate of industrialist James G. Hanes, it has free admission and parking. Learn about the current exhibitions and events. For location, visiting hours and nearby restaurants, click here.


On that trip, you can also visit Reynolda House, which is only four minutes away. Although you may need to plan the day carefully, it contains thousands of historic objects and acclaimed American art from the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe, Alexander Calder and Andy Warhol. The estate includes extensive gardens, trails and even a greenhouse. See here for visiting information.


Marc Chagall said, “Great art picks up where nature ends.” But then it seems to circle back to nature. Lean into that as you enjoy the outdoors this spring, together with all the creative happenings in the art-rich Triangle and Triad areas of North Carolina.

Pamir Kiciman is a freelance writer, artist, photographer, healer, and meditation teacher. To learn more, visit or contact him by email:

Share This Article

Scroll down to make a comment.

Be the first to comment on "Plan Your Spring Outings: Where Art Meets Nature"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.