Congratulations to the new group of South Carolina Arts Commission Fellows!

The South Carolina Arts Commission Board has awarded Individual Artist Fellowships to four South Carolina artists in the categories of prose, poetry, dance: choreography and dance: performance. Each artist receives $5,000. This year's fellows (pictured above, left to right):

Fellowships recognize and reward the artistic achievements of South Carolina's exceptional individual artists. Fellowship awards are made through a highly competitive, anonymous process and are based on artistic excellence only. The fellowship awards bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and employment opportunities. “South Carolina's artists enhance our quality of life and are vital to the creative industries that contribute to the state's economy," said S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May. "It is fitting that we recognize the work of successful artists who use their talents and passion to benefit our thriving arts community and inspire others." The S.C. Arts Commission board approves fellowships based on recommendations made by out-of-state review panelists, who select fellows based solely on a review of anonymous work samples. This year's judges were Anton DiScalfani (prose), assistant professor at Auburn University and author of the New York Times bestseller, The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls; Jericho Brown, (poetry), assistant professor in the creative writing program at Emory University in Atlanta and author of two award-winning books of poetry: Please and The New Testament; Bala Sarasvati (choreography), director of Concert Dance Company and modern dance coordinator for the University of Georgia; and Daniel Gwirtzman, (dance performance), assistant professor at Kennesaw State University in Georgia and director of the New York City-based Daniel Gwirtzman Dance Company. Individual artists working in visual arts, craft, media screenwriting and media production can apply for the FY2018 fellowship awards. Applications open Aug. 15, 2016, and the deadline to apply is Nov. 1, 2016. For more information about S.C. Arts Commission programs and services, visit or call (803) 734-8696.


Marcus Amaker named Charleston’s first poet laureate

From the Charleston Post and Courier

marcusamakerpoetlaureateMarcus Amaker, a local poet, musician and graphic designer, was named Charleston’s first poet laureate Tuesday evening, a month after the position was established by City Council.

“We established the position of Poet Laureate to encourage the appreciation of poetry throughout Charleston,” Mayor John Tecklenburg said in a statement. “Marcus is a well-known artist in our community who has the drive, passion and talent to make poetry accessible to everyone.”

Amaker, who once edited Charleston Scene for The Post and Courier, is an active collaborator and a tireless performer, often organizing and participating in spoken word events. He is the author of seven books of poetry, and he has contributed poems to a variety of volumes.

“This honor is not just for me, it’s for every poet in Charleston,” Amaker said. “Poetry is such an important and vital art form. I’m looking forward to working with nonprofits, businesses and schools to give literacy a bigger platform. It’s going to be fun to come up with creative ways for poetry to be spread throughout Charleston. I’m also excited to be an advocate for the City through my words. Charleston has inspired me since the minute I decided to move here in 2003.”

Cities are increasingly embracing poetry. Across the U.S., cities large and small have named an official bard. Doing so clearly is a win-win: it gives poetry (and, by extension, poets) a boost, and it adds an artistic sheen to municipalities otherwise preoccupied with budgets, infrastructure, public services, construction and other matters of urban life.

As poet laureate of Charleston, Amaker will do much more than write and recite. He will work in conjunction with the Office of Cultural Affairs implementing a community outreach and education program to encourage the writing, reading and performance of poetry within the city. He will also participate in civic events, promote literacy through poetry in schools and foster the development of a youth poetry initiative.

And Amaker will commemorate the city by composing poetry that speaks to, for and of the region, to be presented at an annual city-sponsored event.

The ordinance establishing the post authorizes a small honorarium funded by private sources, according to city spokesman Jack O’Toole. That honorarium likely would amount to a few thousand dollars.

A poetry reading and reception featuring Amaker is scheduled for 6 p.m. June 29 at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park. Armed with an old-fashioned typewriter, Amaker will be at the Charleston Farmers Market on June 25 with other local poets. He will also be presenting the inaugural Charleston Poetry Festival, in late October.


Check out this video: United States of Arts: South Carolina!

The National Endowment for the Arts invited each state arts agency to create a video celebrating the NEA's 50th anniversary and provided the film maker and resources to do so. A big thank you to the artists, educators, arts organizations and other folks who participated in or helped with the South Carolina Arts Commission's project! Enjoy!  

Grantee Spotlight

Soda City Story Slam gives community an opportunity to open up

From The Free Times Article by David Travis Bland

If Shannon Ivey told you a story, she might tell you about “THAT FACE,” her name for the subtle contortion of a person’s visage when they find out about her divorce. The words created by the embouchure of “THAT FACE” often speak too much about eHarmony and too little about rolling in the sheets. She speculates this latter phenomenon is due to some sort of guilt that kicks in right at the good part.
Shannon Ivey and Nancy Marine Shannon Ivey and Nancy Marine, a participant in this week’s Soda City Story Slam What: Soda City Story Slam Where: Columbia Museum of Art, 1515 Main St. When: Thursday, June 23, 6 p.m. Price: $10 ($8 for CMA members) More: 803-799-2810,
“Why do we make THAT FACE at folks?” Ivey notes in a finely crafted essay that the local Southern women’s website Auntie Bellum published in May. “A divorce is an arduous, scary process, and at best, it takes well over a year. I SHOULD be congratulated. I made it out. I made it through. And, I have enough leftover to buy expensive mascara that, thank goodness, is waterproof.” Ivey, an actor, director and “recovering theatre professor,” gives the stage to other story-smiths with the Soda City Story Slam. Taking cues from The Moth, the popular onstage, storytelling podcast, the slam brings together 16 people of diverse backgrounds in front of an audience and allots them each about six minutes to break hearts, bust guts or both. “It’s the human condition in a condensed form, empathy in a bouillon-cube size,” Ivey says. “Extremely powerful for those telling the stories as well as those listening.” The Story Slam grew out of Ivey’s work with forum theatre, a type of performance in which audience members engage with and alter the production. “I wanted to see if Moth-style storytelling could be a way to get to the same thing, giving often ignored or oppressed folks the mic,” she explains. Earning a grant from the SC Arts Commission, she put on together a story slam series last year in Orangeburg where she was a professor at South Carolina State University. Ivey came to Columbia by way of her new career as a trainer in reproductive health and justice and found connections between acting and her latest gig. Through both jobs, she looked for a way to give voice to those often silenced, and in that search galvanized empathetic ties to her new city. She began discussions with the Columbia Museum of Art about an event that could realize this passion. “At first, they wanted a piece of forum theatre,” Ivey says. “When we talked more about how to make the event truly connected to the community, of and by the community, as well as respecting the busyness of folks’ lives, a story slam format was much more accessible.” In many ways, Ivey found Columbia to be a golden town. “When I was offered my current job, I could live anywhere in South Carolina,” she offers. “I chose to come here because of people. Because I’ve seen positive change happen for people, by people.” That inspiration guides the Soda City Story Slam, an event she hopes will become a regular series. “Story is all we have, really, that is ours,” Ivey says. “It’s also our most valuable natural resource when it comes to building community. So a Story Slam is a natural fit for Columbia.” For Ivey, the Soda City Story Slam isn’t her event as much as it belongs to the city. It’s another way for her to bring people together and to help them understand each other, goals she has long actualized. “Columbia has so many people doing great work, meaningful work,” Ivey posits. “This is a moment for folks to have five minutes to be authentic, to revel in what we share as humans, and connect with someone you might have never thought you could connect to. A good story can be many things. As a performer, I encourage my storytellers to prepare it well but write it from the heart.”


Remembering Jim Harrison with his words

From The Orangeburg Times and Democrat

Jim HarrisonJim Harrison is being remembered for his contributions to the world of art and to his hometown of Denmark, which he supported strongly for a lifetime. Harrison died Saturday at age 80 in the place that he made famous, the studio in the middle of Denmark at what is officially known as Harrison Crossroad (the intersection of U.S. Highways 321 and 78). He leaves behind a great legacy of art from a career that easily might never have been. Harrison was a successful coach before taking one of life’s big chances and pursuing his passion that was born as a young man in painting a Coca-Cola sign on McCartha’s Hardware in Denmark. The rest is, shall we say, history. Amid the many words of tribute to Harrison in these waning days of June, we turn back to June 2015 and an article penned by Harrison for South Carolina Farmer, a publication of the S.C. Farm Bureau Federation. As he laments the loss of the country stores that were an inspiration to him, his reflections offer insight about the artist and speak to why the works he leaves behind will tell stories about times past for generations to come. “I love country stores. Not only are they rich with emotional associations, they are also an essential part of our past especially when it comes to the farming life. A search for the real American entrepreneurial spirit must not begin in the contemporary metropolitan offices of our giant corporations. To learn of the development of the mercantile system in this country, one must pause, turn around and take a backward look.” “For more than half a century, I have had a love affair with old buildings, old things and old ways. In today’s America, there is a disturbing school of thought propounding the idea that something new is better, more exciting and more useful. ‘Throw it away and get a new one’ is the constant cry of this group, who seem unwilling to take the time to glance backward and evaluate. As we look to our rural and agricultural past, the role of the country store cannot be ignored.” “In my own painting and writing, I draw a lot from the memories I accumulated as a boy. If I can capture the mood of a moment from the past, then I feel successful. We can’t return to the old ways because we ourselves have changed too much. Yet, I sincerely try to put meaning into my work in hopes it has some historical value. With my paintbrush and pen, I sometimes feel like I’m just one step in front of the wrecking ball. And for more than half a century, I have had a love affair with old buildings, old things and old ways. Preserving them in at least some small way is important to me.” “Standing in the doorway, you will be caught with one foot in the past and one pointing to the future. Memory will serve you well at the moment, but time must move on and in its ruthless way leave behind much that was good. Never again will the wood stove seem so warm. Never again will the porch seem so shady. And never again will the candy taste so sweet.”

Call for Art

McCormick Arts Council invites photographers to enter juried exhibition

The McCormick Arts Council invites all residents of the United States, 18 years of age or older, to participate in its annual Juried Photography Exhibition held during July.  Cash prizes will be awarded to Best in Show, 2nd Place and 3rd Place winners. Artwork must be original and completed in the last three years. Any copy of the work of another artist, or of a picture or photo which has appeared in print and uses its composition or essential art elements is NOT considered original. This exhibition is limited to photography. Wall mounted work must be framed and securely wired, weigh no more than 50 lbs., or exceed 50". The MACK will not be responsible for glass breakage. No clip mounts will be accepted. Work not adequately prepared for display will be removed from jury. Delivery of Entries: Friday, June 17, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday, June 18, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Monday, June 20, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Jurying of Artwork: Friday, June 24, 2016 Notifications will be made by email or phone through June 30. Opening Reception: Friday, July 8, 2016 Entry Fee: $25 for one entry, $35 for two, $45 for three. Non-refundable. Complete details are available online.

Call for Art

Coker College’s Cecelia Coker Bell Gallery call for artists

The Cecelia Coker Bell Gallery on Coker College's campus in Hartsville, S.C., is reviewing applications for five solo exhibitions for the 2017/18 season. Coker College uses the Cecelia Coker Bell Gallery to broaden students’ exposure to artists with regional, national, and international reputations. Interest in the exhibition program extends beyond the college community and public participation is encouraged for all exhibitions and artists’ presentations. Artists from France, Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, Peru, Portugal, South Africa, and all regions of the United States have exhibited in the gallery. Coker’s exhibition review committee selects thought-provoking art that challenges and inspires. With this in mind, the review committee looks for innovative works of art by artists who desire exposure in an academic setting. The gallery provides $300 towards shipping and $200 for a gallery talk. Deadline to apply is Oct. 31, 2016. E-mail notifications will be sent out by mid-December. Find how to apply online. Via: Coker College      


Seeking solace in poetry after a mass shooting

From PBS Newshour Article by Mary Jo Brooks

Marcus Amaker Marcus Amaker is a poet, graphic artist, web designer and musician. Photo by Jonathan Boncek. The shooting by a white supremacist at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church in June 2015 was a wakeup call for poet Marcus Amaker. The gunman killed Rev. Clementa Pickney and eight parishioners during a Bible study in the basement. “I think that for a long time a lot of people my age thought racism was not really this tangible thing. But then when this happened at the church, it really became the most real thing that we’ve ever experienced,” said Amaker. Marjory Wentworth, also a poet, said she fell to the ground and sobbed when she heard of the tragedy. “I don’t think anyone is ever going to get over it here,” she said. “It’s part of our history now.” At first glance, the two couldn’t seem more different. Wentworth is a high-energy, middle-aged white woman, who lived in Massachusetts and New York before moving to South Carolina 27 years ago. Marjory Wentworth Marjory Wentworth is the Poet Laureate of South Carolina. Photo by Andy Allen. Amaker is a young African-American graphic artist and web designer with long braids, a broad smile and easy going manner. He grew up an Air Force kid, living all over the world before coming to Charleston in 2003. The two met more than 10 years ago at a poetry reading in the city. Now, Wentworth says, Amaker is one of her closest friends. “We talk several times a week. He designed my website and we often perform together.” They even collaborated on a poem, after incoming Mayor John Tecklenburg commissioned one for his inauguration last January. The result was “Re-imagining History” which tells of Charleston’s complicated history of slavery and race relations. The final stanza recalls the tragedy of the shooting. This year, we’ve done laps around despair; and we’ve grown tired of running in circles so we stepped off the track and began to walk. As the earth shifted beneath our feet, we moved forward together. Our hearts unhinged, guide us toward a city remade by love, into a future that our past could never have imagined, beginning today. Both poets were immediately contacted by local media to write poems in response to the shooting. Wentworth had just two days to compose the poem “Holy City” — the nickname for this community with over 400 churches. “I wanted the poem to feel like a prayer. I wanted it to be something that everybody could read and relate to somehow,” Wentworth said. The poem was published on a full page in the Sunday edition of the Post and Courier. Amaker wrote his poem “Black Cloth” for the weekly City Paper. He said he wanted it to be a tribute to the nine victims, but also wanted it as a wakeup call. “For me, it feels like the time for small talk is over. If we don’t change after this, then what is going to change us?” Amaker asks. In the days and weeks that followed, poets from the community and around the country began sending poems to Wentworth and Amaker. In response, the two created a website for the poetry and eventually hope to publish a book. “In a time of crisis, poetry is a great way to find the language for something that people don’t have. People crave some way of articulating what they’re feeling. And that’s what poetry does,” says Wentworth. Holy City by Marjory Wentworth “Only love can conquer hate.” Reverend Clementa Pinckney Let us gather and be silent together like stones glittering in sunlight so bright it hurts our eyes emptied of tears and searching the sky for answers. Let us be strangers together as we gather in circles wherever we meet to stand hand in hand and sing hymns to the heavens and pray for the fallen and speak their names: Clementa, Cynthia, Tywanza, Ethel, Sharonda, Daniel, Myra, Susie and Depayne. They are not alone. As bells in the spires call across the wounded Charleston sky, we close our eyes and listen to the same stillness ringing in our hearts, holding onto one another like brothers, like sisters because we know wherever there is love, there is God.
Black Cloth By Marcus Amaker Racism, let us no longer walk in your shoes. you are a traveler of darkness, a walker of shadows, cloaking yourself in a black cloth like the grim reaper and arming your soul with the tools of a terrorist- a misguided soldier who’s trying to start a war. My sisters, heaven was as close as your breath that night. You came to Mother Emanuel to worship in the glow of God, and speak the light that flows from love. How beautiful of Him to hear your words and lift you into the arms of Christ My brothers, you walked toward heaven with focus, even when your shoes were stained with the dirt of intolerance. A black cloth lays silent at Clementa’s seat, resting under a single rose. It was taken from our city’s soil, where seeds of faith continue to grow. Charleston, I see heaven in your tears and feel the weight of sadness in your voice. I’ve seen strangers hold hands as the sun wraps us in unbearable heat, I’ve watched children of contradiction come together for the unity of the Holy City. South Carolina, nine members of your family are now in heaven and you have to confront the reality of racism, the dusk of pain, the lightlessness of the dawn. Because I would rather hang a black cloth on a flag pole than give the Confederate flag another glimpse of the sun. About Marjory Wentworth Marjory Wentworth is the poet laureate of South Carolina. She has taught creative writing at the Art Institute of Charleston and at Charleston County schools for nearly 25 years. Her work has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies and her books of poetry include “Noticing Eden” and “The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle.” This month she is releasing a non-fiction book called “We are Charleston.”  In it, Wentworth and co-authors Herb Frazier and Bernard Edward Powers, examine the reaction of the city following the shooting at the Emanuel AME church one year ago. About Marcus Amaker Marcus Amaker is an award-winning web designer, graphic designer, videographer, musician and author. Amaker began his career as a journalist, working for the Post and Courier newspaper.  He has released seven books of poetry. His most recent is “Mantra: an Interactive Poetry Book.”  His poems have also been featured in “Home is Where: An Anthology of African American Poetry from the Carolinas,” “Seeking: Poetry and Prose Inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green,” and “My South: A people, A Place, A World of its Own."  As a spoken word poet, he’s performed for the MOJA, Piccolo Spoleto, Spoleto and North Charleston Arts festivals.


‘Requiem for Mother Emanuel’: Artist hopes his tribute to Emanuel 9 reflects hope in midst of loss

From the Orangeburg Times and Democrat Article by Dionne Gleaton, photo by Larry Hardy
In keeping with his roots in a holiness church, artist Leo Twiggs has a testimony he wants to share with the world. It speaks of the range of emotions he felt following the horrific mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston nearly a year ago.
Twiggs lets his art do the talking for him, though, through his use of batik, an ancient technique of manual wax-resistant dyeing applied to whole cloth. He spent many long nights over the course of several weeks manually dyeing and dipping fabric pieces to achieve a texturally rich and deep-toned series titled “Requiem for Mother Emanuel.”
Nine people, including Senior Pastor and state Sen. Clementa C. Pinckney, were killed by a gunman during a Bible study session at Emanuel AME Church on June 17, 2015.
The tragedy gained worldwide attention and emotionally moved Twiggs, who said his images for “Requiem for Mother Emanuel” did not actually begin as a series.
“The whole idea behind the Mother Emanuel series did not come as a series. I did not think of it as a series. I was doing one painting and that painting was in reaction right after the event happened,” the artist said.
His body of work will be exhibited at The City Gallery in Charleston from Tuesday, June 21 to Sunday, July 31. The City of Charleston is dedicating the entire first floor of the gallery for the display of Twiggs’ work. The paintings will be accompanied by a seven-minute video in which he talks about the nine images and his inspiration behind each.
The “Requiem for Mother Emanuel” exhibition is part of a nine-day remembrance the City of Charleston is hosting to commemorate the one-year anniversary of the church shooting.
“During that period, the exhibit will be open to the members of the church and survivors of the victims for private viewing,” Twiggs said.

‘This is about nine people that perished’

A target and the number nine are symbols that appear in the series, along with the Confederate flag, a symbol that Twiggs has used in his paintings since the 1970s.
“I go all the way back with both the target and the Confederate flag as part of the images in my work. I did a whole series on ‘Targeted Man,’ and I did a series using the Confederate flag,” he said.
The artist said he felt the Emanuel AME Church, often referred to as Mother Emanuel, was the target for such horrible violence because of its rich history. Founded in 1816, Emanuel AME is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the Southern United States and is the first independent black denomination in the United States.
“Denmark Vesey was a pastor of the church at one time. Charleston probably has more churches than any other single place in South Carolina, but he picked that church because of what it meant to black people,” Twiggs said. “So my first image was this target and this silhouette of the church.”
He said he chose not to reproduce an actual picture of the Emanuel AME Church in the first image of the series, whose pieces were all done in batik on cotton.
“One of the things I didn’t want to do as an artist is to just put a picture of the church because when you paint and put just a picture of the church, you tie everything to a single church, when it’s really about churches. So what I did was create a kind of symbol of a church, a kind of imagery that could be any church. That piece was done in 2015 right after the horrible incident,” he said.
The second image was actually started in 2015 and finished this year.
“I used the flag and the number nine because that’s what it was all about. And it was at night, so I tried to suggest a kind of dark sky, said Twiggs, whose third piece also contained a blood-stained Confederate flag with nine X’s at the bottom of it.
Twiggs said the flag became more like a stain on the starkly white church in his fourth painting.
“I just saw what happened at Emanuel as a stain on this white church. Here is this blood stain on this white church that was really a metaphor for a white garment that somebody’s wearing and gets a terrible stain on. So the flag is there, but it becomes like a blood stain,” he said, noting that the nine multi-colored X‘s at the bottom of the flag represented the nine shooting victims.
“An X means somebody has passed, or that somebody is no longer with us. I don’t know why I used the different colors. I suspect it’s because I wanted to match up with the colors on the flag, but I think it also kind of represents that these were different people,” Twiggs said. “Some were young, some were old.”
He said each of his paintings is a testimony to the nine slain church members.
“They are single paintings that live on their own right. It’s like a testimony,” Twiggs said.
The Confederate flag become a recurring symbol in Twiggs’ “Requiem” series, and it is splashed across the surface of the church. It eventually morphs into a cross on a blood-stained background and then changes into a cross with the red drained from it.
Twiggs said there is somewhat of a transition made in the fifth painting, when the Confederate flag becomes “smaller and less prominent.”
“In this one, the blood of the flag has completely disappeared. … This is the flag, but there are nine stars and the flag is now morphing into a cross,” he said. “This is patterned fabric. This is the only one where I’ve used patterned fabric on it.”
Twiggs said he took a tour of the inside of the church, images of which are included in his sixth piece.
“I had not been inside the church in years. My art teacher at Claflin, Arthur Rose, was a member of that church. So I had been to that church early on, but it had been a long time. I just felt if I was going to do a Mother Emanuel series, I had to see where they died,” he said.
He was particularly moved by a massive stained glass window that was located near the church’s altar. He included its likeness in his sixth image, along with the Confederate flag’s continued morph into the image of a white cross.
“I wanted to get the feeling of what was inside the church. What’s amazing is one side of the church is starkly white, but inside it’s warm and has got all of that old wood. It looks historic,” said the artist, whose sixth image also includes the Palmetto Tree and crescent moon, symbols from the state flag.
Twiggs includes all three symbols of the Confederate flag, the target and the number nine in his seventh image, along with crosses representing the souls of the victims.
“I look at it and think of it as a summary because I used the flag, but the bloodiness is now gone. I used the target as I did on the first one, and then the number nine, which I also used in the second one. So kind of all the things that are incorporated in those paintings are in this particular piece,” he said. “And, of course, you have the crosses of the souls of these people rising and the moon.”
He intended for the title of the series to reflect hope in the midst of great loss, the artist said.
“The reason this is called ‘Requiem’ is because this isn’t about the living. This is about the nine people that perished in this horrible, horrific incident. Nobody knows what happens to you when you die but in the Christian religion, you are transformed from a physical being to a spiritual being,” he said.
“And I try to represent that spiritual being with the cross because the way Christians get to their final destination is the way Christ went to his destination — through the cross. So these people obviously were Christians, and for them that is the journey I try to portray them taking — that rising up from their church to another place,” Twiggs said.
That image is vividly shown in his eighth painting, where a white line of demarcation separates the church from the heavenly place that Christians seek to reach in the afterlife. A darker blue suggests the horror the victims endured on earth, but a lighter blue emanates from above.
“That’s where the sky is bluer, and in there I have a lot of crosses because we call our funerals ‘home going ceremonies.’ We’re going to meet our relatives who went on before us; they’re all up there waiting for us. So when I’m doing this, I’m very steeped in African-American culture and traditions,” Twiggs said.
Deciding how to end the series with his final painting was something the artist struggled with. He thought about how the church was located less than a mile and a half from where Africans were brought to America as slaves and less than a mile from where the Civil War began.
“Mother Emanuel is less than a mile from where Africans were brought ashore and sold on Market Street in Charleston. Mother Emanuel was in a very unique place and is a very unique place. It’s the place where Denmark Vesey tried for freedom and was killed.
“I thought about the history of Mother Emanuel and I also thought that (what happened at) Mother Emanuel is not unique to us. It happened in Birmingham with four little girls. It happened in North Charleston when the guy was shot in the back. … This is the stony road we trod,” Twiggs said, referring to the lyrics of James Weldon Johnson’s “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the National Black Anthem.
It was another line from that song, however, that kept coming back to him and was included in his ninth piece: “We have come over a way that with tears has been watered. We have come treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered.”
“Those two lines explain Mother Emanuel perfectly,” Twiggs said. “If the victims could speak, what would they say? They have said, ‘We have come treading a path through the blood of the slaughtered,’ and this is what has happened to many of us.”
“So what I wanted in this last one is to kind of sum up and give people the perspective of what Mother Emanuel really means to us as African-Americans. It’s a place that speaks about our journey, the pain of a journey that is repeated over and over when you look at our history,” he said.
In the final image, a number nine sits above the lines from Weldon’s song.
‘Our state’s finest hour’
Twiggs said the seven-minute video that accompanies his series was developed with a $10,000 donation from a group of art patrons in Greenville who have purchased his work over the years. The video was produced by Greenville-based Sailwind Pictures.
Twiggs said the director of Greenville’s Hampton III Gallery gave the donors an opportunity to preview his works and see the video during a special reception. The gallery is the state’s longest operating art gallery in which Twiggs has been a member since 1972.
“It was really a great afternoon. Once you see the video and these works, it gives a whole new perspective of what I was doing,” he said.
The Johnson Collection of Spartanburg acquired the last three of the nine paintings, Twiggs said.
“One of the most significant (art) collections in South Carolina decided to buy all three paintings and to donate them to two national museums and to keep one that so that it could be loaned to museums in our state,” he said. “That, to me, was nice.”
Another donor funded the printing of 5,000 brochures containing images of the paintings and an essay, all of which will be available at Twiggs’ exhibit at The City Gallery in Charleston.
“If you take the brochure, the exhibit could live forever. I’m so proud of that,” the artist said, noting that an artist’s reception is scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, July 8 at The City Gallery following the nine-day anniversary commemoration of the church shooting.
“We’re not doing anything formal when they’re having the anniversary because that’s a quiet time. When they’re having the anniversary, the only thing is that the families of the victims will know that the works are in the gallery,” Twiggs said.
South Carolina ETV also filmed a documentary about the creation of Twiggs’ paintings on June 2. Beryl Dakers, who retired from ETV but continues to work on special projects, is a long-time friend of Twiggs, and she filmed the documentary.
“I know Beryl is also supposed to be going to Charleston to do something with Mother Emanuel. I think she’s going to do some interviews and everything else and then feature the documentary with that. So she’s putting together this documentary,” Twiggs said, noting that the documentary will likely air following the nine-day remembrance,
Bradley Glenn, an award-winning documentary producer from California, is also working on a 60- to 80-minute documentary about Twiggs’ work called “Leo Twiggs: Crossing Over.”
“He plans to bring a crew to Charleston to cover the Emanuel event. So I’ll probably be going down there for that. His documentary is not just about Mother Emanuel,” but he wants it to be a part of it, Twiggs said.
“He (Glenn) said, “I want to get you with some of the survivors.’ I said, ‘I’ve got to wait and see whether they want to do that.’ So he’s going to be in and out of town. It’s going to be interesting to see what he does,” the artist said.
Twiggs said what he hopes to do is contribute to the healing of the community in the aftermath of the church shooting with his works of art.
“When an event happens, there are people who want to write about it, there are people who want to talk about it and there are people who want to paint about it. I said in the video that after Mother Emanuel, it was our state’s finest hour because for the first time that I can remember, we came together as one,” he said.
“It was not about the color of our skin or status, but as one human being in relation to another human being. And, if anything, I hope that the paintings record that moment so that when people look at the paintings, they could say that a tragic thing happened at a church, but what happened as a result of that thing was something that had not happened in our state before.”
Entry to Twiggs’ “Requiem for Mother Emanuel” exhibit is free to the public. The City Gallery is located at 34 Prioleau St. in Charleston. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday. The gallery is closed on Monday. For more information, call the gallery at 843-958-6484.


South Carolina Arts Commission launches The Art of Community: Rural SC

As part of its work with the South Carolina Promise Zone, the South Carolina Arts Commission has launched a new initiative, The Art of Community: Rural S.C. This pilot project advances the Arts Commission’s commitment to rural development through the arts, culture and creative placemaking and is supported by funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development. The initiative began in May with the creation of small community teams that will gather July 26 to reimagine their communities through an arts and culture lens.  Each team will then build small demonstration projects to grapple with a current community development issue. These projects will focus on how the arts can address local issues that may include economic, community or workforce development, healthcare, education, public safety, housing or capital. The Arts Commission will provide small grants to assist with these projects. The Art of Community: Rural SC counties“The Arts Commission is proud to partner with the Promise Zone as it moves its strategic plan forward,” said Ken May, executive director of the South Carolina Arts Commission, one of 40 partners and supporters in a six-county Lowcountry effort to envision new possibilities and create a foundation for more economic vibrancy. The Promise Zone federal designation was awarded last year and provides a new way for people in Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties to benefit from grants administered by 12 federal agencies through more than 30 programs. Within this overall effort, the South Carolina Arts Commission has developed a new approach to its work in this region. The six counties make up the service area of Susan DuPlessis, Arts Commission program director and arts coordinator for that region for the last nine years. “Through this initiative, we have created a new framework for building local connections, community engagement and capacity,” DuPlessis said. “It was born out of our participation in the Promise Zone’s strategic planning process in the fall of 2015. In all of the sessions, I heard how arts and culture were important, whether we were talking about healthcare or workforce development. The arts were clearly identified as key to community pride, attachment and new possibilities.” Art of Community: Rural SC mavens Left to right: Gary Brightwell, Susan DuPlessis, Evelyn Coker, Audrey Hopkins-Williams, Johnny Davis, Dr. Yvette McDaniel, Lottie Lewis The Art of Community: Rural S.C. is about engagement at all levels—from local and regional to state and national.  Three sets of individuals representing these levels are integral to the goal of working locally to explore what makes communities places people want to live, work and play. The three groups are “mavens” (community connectors), local teams and advisors. Six mavens have agreed to work closely with the Arts Commission to launch, drive and sustain this new approach.  Mavens and the communities they represent are Lottie Lewis, Allendale; Dr. Yvette McDaniel, Denmark (Bamberg County); Evelyn Coker, Blackville (Barnwell County); Gary Brightwell, Walterboro (Colleton County); Audrey Hopkins-Williams, Estill (Hampton County); and Johnny Davis, Jasper County.  The mavens will lead their local teams in a series of regional meetings for cross-county learning and community building through creative placemaking. The Arts Commission has also partnered with Kentucky’s rural Promise Zone to create a cross-cultural exchange between the two states. South Carolina’s mavens will meet June 16-18 with arts, economic and community leaders in Hazard and Whitesburg, Kentucky.  “We expect to share about our communities while learning the steps Kentucky’s leaders have taken to use arts and culture in advancing rural communities,” DuPlessis said. Kentucky and South Carolina are home to the only rural Promise Zone regions in the country. Twenty-three national and state leaders representing expansive thinking in the world of arts, culture and community development have agreed to champion this effort as members of an Advisory Council. The council is co-chaired by two native South Carolinians, Union native Dr. Ann Carmichael, dean of USC Salkehatchie, and Bob Reeder, program director for Rural LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) and a Rock Hill native. “Having these accomplished individuals involved—one a leader in higher education, the other a leader in community development for rural communities—provides new perspectives,” said May. “We are proud to spearhead this effort and look forward to supporting the local teams, learning from them and connecting them to more resources to benefit their communities and the Promise Zone region." Advisory Council members: Dr. Ann Carmichael, Co-Chair, USC-Salkehatchie, South Carolina J. Robert “Bob” Reeder, Co-Chair, Rural LISC, Washington, D.C. Savannah Barrett, Art of the Rural, Kentucky Javier Torres, ArtPlace America, New York Leonardo Vazquez, AICP, The National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, NJ Dr. J. Herman Blake, Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission Kerri Forrest, Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation,Lowcountry SC and Chicago Susie Surkamer, SouthArts, Hilton Head and Atlanta Doug Peach, University of Indiana, Ph.D. graduate student, Indiana David Smalls, Community Consultant, Walterboro/Columbia Carolyn Lackey, Charleston Association of Grant Professionals, Charleston Warren Chavous, USC Salkehatchie Leadership, Allendale/Promise Zone Andy Brack, Better South, Charleston & Promise Zone Liaison Jane Przybysz, McKissick Museum at University of South Carolina Brandolyn Pinkston, (Ret.) Consumer Affairs Director, Savannah and Columbia Bernie Mazyck, S.C. Association for Community Economic Development Sara Johnson, Municipal Association of South Carolina Michelle Knight, Lowcountry Council of Governments Danny Black, SouthernCarolina Alliance, SC Promise Zone Dee Crawford, S.C. Arts Commission Board, McDonald’s Franchisee, Aiken Sara June Goldstein, S.C. Arts Commission, Statewide Partnerships Ken May, S.C. Arts Commission, Executive Director Advisory Council co-chairs Dr. Ann CarmichaelDr. Ann C. Carmichael is the dean of the University of South Carolina Salkehatchie. Prior to her appointment in 2000, Dr. Carmichael served for nine years as director of the Salkehatchie Walterboro Campus and coordinator of development, overseeing the institution’s multimillion dollar capital campaign. She earned her Ph.D. in counseling from USC and a Master’s in Student Personnel Services from Clemson University.  Prior to joining USC Salkehatchie in 1991, she served as associate vice president for academic affairs and dean of students at Charleston Southern University and dean of students at Judson College in Marion, Ala. Dr. Carmichael was instrumental in securing the Promise Zone designation for the six-county region, a designation that was awarded only to one rural community. Dr. Carmichael is a graduate of the Diversity Leadership Institute at Furman University and currently serves as chair-elect of the Colleton Walterboro Chamber of Commerce, the SouthernCarolina Regional Economic Development Alliance Board of Directors, and as chairman of the Savannah River Site Redevelopment Authority Board. Bob ReederJ. Robert ‘Bob’ Reeder serves as a program director and field program manager for Rural LISC (the rural component of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation). There he directs sustainable rural community development activities covering 72 rural, community-based organizations located in 43 states and over 1,400 counties. His areas of expertise include community engagement, board of director development and training, land retention strategies in rural areas and other issues impacting land tenure, financial underwriting, project feasibility analysis, grant and loan assistance, and organizational capacity building. Reeder has built a 30-year career devoted to social and economic justice, housing and comprehensive community development, particularly in incorporating arts and cultural-based strategies (creative placemaking) in the revival of distressed rural communities, public policy, and legal and administrative advocacy. A native of Rock Hill, S.C., he earned a BA in Government from Wofford College and his JD from Vanderbilt University School of Law.