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Rocky Mount artist dedicates exhibit to Kobe Bryant

Posted January 26, 2021 6:19 p.m. EST
Updated January 26, 2021 6:49 p.m. EST

— It’s been one year since NBA legend Kobe Bryant, his daughter, Gianna, and seven others died in a helicopter crash. Tributes have poured in from all over the world, including from an artist in Rocky Mount.

Willie Thorne dedicated not just one but seven pieces to the Lakers' player at his latest exhibit at Wesleyan College’s Mims Gallery inside the Dunn Center.

"I just knew I had to do something to represent Kobe. He touched a lot of people for his game, the way he played," Thorne said.

He spent 10 months working on the pieces, which are made from wood and paint. He uses a saw to recreate people, and then paints over the wood, creating an almost 3D image.

"It’s really beautiful," Taleyah Burgess, a senior at Wesleyan College, "I like the way the pictures are popping out of the frames."

Thorne is a Rocky Mount native who’s been making this type of art for 30 years. By day, he works at Firestone Auto Care in Wilson. By night, and any other free time he has, he works on his pieces.

"I hope it inspires people to reach for their goals. Whatever goals you’ve got, [they] can be met," he said.

Thorne’s exhibit also features other prominent African Americans, several of whom have died in the last five years, like Prince, Muhammad Ali and Chadwick Boseman.

The exhibit is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m until Feb. 14. The art is for sale.

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