Beverly McIver is not an average person. Despite her quiet demeanor, unassuming presence and contagious humility, she is a force of nature.
McIver is a Durham-based artist whose work has gained national attention, but her most recent moment in the spotlight is for another reason entirely - she is the subject of a documentary called Raising Renee that will be shown at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. It is about a promise that Beverly made to her mother - one kept unfailingly. The promise was to care for her disabled sister when her mother passed away, and since 2004, Beverly has done so.
At one hour and 25 minutes and the result of six years of filming by two Massachusetts film makers, the work chronicles the changes and choices Beverly has made to accommodate her sister; her need to leave NY as her career was taking off, her move to Arizona to teach, and ultimately back to Durham to take a position as the Suntrust Endowed Professor of Art at North Carolina Central University. It's been quite a journey.
"It helped me grow as an individual and made me care for someone - that's what the film is about," McIver said by phone in her characteristically happy tone.
Her art moved from hobby to profession over the last 25 years - she sold her first piece to a co-worker she met while on a temporary job with whom she is still friends. At the same time she grew as a person and artist whose works sell for tens of thousands of dollars.
As some would say in proper Southern parlance, Beverly is "good people," though she'd probably not be so self-congratulatory herself.