Charlottes Sensoria shines

No matter what art form speaks to you, Central Piedmont Community College (CPCC) will celebrate it at the annual Sensoria.

The Joffrey Ballet in flight as part of Sensoria.

“CP,” as Charlotteans call it, takes a broad view of art, proving high art and street art can peacefully co-exist. For instance, the school’s cosmetology club will showcase their artistry in a two-hour nail art session. At what other arts festival will you find manicures alongside poetry readings and bake sales on the same day as a Joffrey Ballet performance?Sensoria started in 1993 when poet Irene Blair Honeycutt launched CPCC’s Spring Literary Festival. It was a small-scale effort then. In the years since, it has grown to encompass music, cinema, visual arts, performing arts — theater, opera, live music — history, and the culinary arts. This year, slam poetry and graffiti art have also been added. Many events are free, and even ticketed events are priced affordably. CPCC stages the festival for the entire community, but students are the No. 1 audience organizers consider, said Amy Bagwell, English professor and board chair of Sensoria’s literary events committee. Bagwell is excited about the message memoirist Amelia Morris conveys. Morris began blogging about food, family, love, and unemployment and turned her musings into a memoir, “Bon Appétempt”, which was Amazon’s book of the month last February. “I think Amelia Morris’ message will really resonate,” Bagwell said. “Her success didn’t happen overnight. She worked hard, developed a following on her blog, and then published a book. Her story is a great motivator.” One evening, a lucky few will get to eat her words as Morris will be part of a dinner featuring dishes from her memoir prepared by students in CPCC’s culinary program. Other featured authors include Amy Bloom, this year’s Irene Blair Honeycutt Distinguished lecturer and author of New York Times Bestseller “Lucky Us,” Dacre Stoker, author of “Dracula The Un-Dead,” and Ben Marcus, editor of “New American Stories” and author of “The Flame Alphabet.” SCAD-educated Charles Williams, 32, is Sensoria’s featured visual artist. Williams has nearly drowned three times, and he confronts his fear of water by painting it. His large-scale, hyper-realistic oceanscapes aren’t painted from memory. He puts on a lifejacket and heads into the surf — as far as he can comfortably go and always with someone else with him — and snaps pictures of the water surrounding him. The work packs a punch, given its massive size and delicate artistry. But when you know the story behind it, you realize the art is downright brave.Sensoria embraces the performing arts, too. If you thought it impossible for “high-energy” and “harpist” to be used in the same sentence, you should check out Deborah Henson-Conant, a Grammy-nominated electric harp virtuoso. Her concert will include pop, jazz, flamenco, and classical.Art is for everybody. Whether you want to see, hear, touch, or taste your art, Sensoria has you covered with performances, exhibits, and presentations from April 8 -16.