African American fiber artists sought for N. Charleston exhibition

Submission deadline: Sunday, March 1, 2020

The City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department is seeking entries from African American textile artists from across the nation for a special exhibition presented as a component of the 2020 North Charleston Arts Fest, set to take place April 29-May 3 in North Charleston.

African American artists, ages 18 and up, living in the U.S. and working in the medium of fiber are invited to participate in the 14th Annual African American Fiber Art Exhibition, titled SANKOFA. The exhibition will be on display at North Charleston City Hall, opening on the first day of the Arts Fest, April 29, 2020, and remaining on view until June 19, 2020. A $30 entry fee allows artists to submit a maximum of four entries for consideration. Up to two entries per artist may be selected by the curator of the exhibition. Artwork submitted for consideration does not have to be complete at time of entry. Artists may enter works in progress. The application is available online at Deadline for entries is Sunday, March 1, 2020.

Curated by award winning master art quilter and curator, Torreah “Cookie” Washington, this unique exhibition offers African American fiber artists a showcase to display their original and innovative designs. Sankofa is a word in the Twi language spoken by the Akan tribe of present-day Ghana. It is associated with the proverb, “Se wo were fi na wosankofa a yenkyi,” which translates to “it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind.” Today, it is more simply interpreted as “go back and get it.” Sankofa also refers to the Asante Adinkra symbol used by the Akan people to represent the same idea, with one version appearing as a stylized heart shape and the other by a mythical bird with its feet firmly planted forward, its head turned backwards, and its mouth carrying a precious egg. Both the word and the symbols represent the concept of remembering our past in order to protect our future. The challenge for this year’s exhibit is for artists to create a pictorial fiber work that illustrates the idea of sankofa. Entries must incorporate one of the two Sankofa symbols (heart or bird).

Following the close of the exhibition, up to 20 works will be selected to tour the state through the South Carolina State Museum’s 2020/2021 Traveling Exhibitions Program. Sites across South Carolina may request the exhibit to tour in their facilities, thus providing additional exposure for the selected artists.

The 14th Annual African American Fiber Art Exhibition: SANKOFA will be on display 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily from April 29-June 19, 2020, on the 1st and 2nd floors of North Charleston City Hall (2500 City Hall Lane, North Charleston). Admission is free. A free public reception in honor of the participating artists will be held at City Hall on Thursday, April 30, 2020, from 6-8:00 p.m.

For more information about the North Charleston Arts Fest, the annual African American Fiber Art Exhibition, or other exhibition opportunities, contact the City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department at 843.740.5854, email, or visit