Born in Spartanburg in 1952, the educator, sculptor, and painter Winston Wingo felt an early draw to the academic setting. Growing up on Thompson Street, Wingo regularly walked the mile of railroad track from his family home to Wofford College, where members of the science faculty welcomed him as a mentee. In the years to come, Wingo would become an established arts instructor, instilling an appreciation for the creative process in generations of South Carolinians.

Wingo’s interest in art was encouraged by his parents and galvanized by an Ebony magazine profile of sculptor Richard Hunt: “I was so moved by this African American man who created art using heat and steel, that I was determined to learn that skill,” Wingo later recalled. Through Claflin University professor Arthur Rose––who urged a teenaged Wingo to apply to the school––Wingo learned the art of metalworking and found a lifelong mentor. He graduated in 1977 with a degree in art education and further explored the three-dimensional form in advanced studies at Clemson University under the instruction of John Acorn. After earning his master’s degree, Wingo traveled to Lucca, Italy, in 1984 to study classical sculpting techniques with skilled craftsmen at local foundries. Following in the path of his mentor, Wingo became an accomplished educator: he has instructed young artists in South Carolina public schools; returned to Claflin, his alma mater, as a professor; and taught undergraduate and graduate-level courses at Converse College, the University of South Carolina Upstate, and South Carolina State University.

A self-described futurist, Wingo creates sculptures that are studies in contrast: smooth, industrial surfaces seemingly crack open to expose textures reminiscent of organic matter, gesturing to humanity’s intertwined relationship with technology. Influenced by the geometric forms of post-war Italian sculpture, Wingo employs the same lost-wax casting technique utilized by sixteenth-century West African specialist guilds, whose intricately decorated bronze plaques he cites as a major inspiration.

In addition to exhibiting throughout the United States, Europe, and Canada, Wingo has created numerous public works, several of which are on view in Spartanburg. Wofford College is home to two: Broadax, a welded steel and bronze sculpture, and Back of the College Monument, a commissioned bronze bas relief honoring those who lived in the predominantly African American neighborhood surrounding campus.