Works of Art
Benita VanWinkle, a photographer and member of the art faculty at High Point University, has been documenting hometown movie theaters built before 1965 for more than 30 years.
This project, which has taken her on back roads and to farming communities across the United States, is about preserving a collective community memory, celebrating the iconic fantasy palaces that movie theaters were for small towns everywhere.
The autumn of 2013 ushered in the digital age and wrote the end to analog film distribution, as it was known for over 90 years. With it came the closing of many of the remaining small town theaters.
With photographs of more than 300 theaters in her collection, and over 50 in North Carolina to date, VanWinklesaid, “I am now pursuing the publication of this series, entitled ‘Please Remain Standing.’ The title is a nod to my hometown theater, in which the manager always announced, ‘Please remain standing for our National Anthem’ before every show. And he turned on the house lights if a customer did not comply.”
VanWinkle’s work has been exhibited and recognized with awards in numerous international and nationally juried art exhibitions. She is a juried member of the Associated Artists of Winston-Salem and has work for purchase at the Sawtooth School for Visual Art gift shop in Winston-Salem. In addition to her faculty duties at High Point University, she is Art Education Coordinator as well.
As a documentary photographer, VanWinkle is at any given moment driven to distraction with yet another amazing project, but her current passion is finishing her book of photographs on vintage movie theaters across the U.S.
Her website showcases her photography, books and other award-winning art.
VanWinkle received her MFA from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill., and works with many nonprofit organizations in North Carolina.
She lives outside Winston-Salem with her husband, son, two rescued dogs, and a neighbor’s herd of goats beyond her back fence.