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The Arts Grand Strand changes hands, maintains legacy

William "Billy" Miller of The Arts Grand Strand. Contributed photo.

One man’s dedication to promotion of the arts along the Grand Strand has become a legacy of leadership. Fortunately, the individual taking up the torch has his own passion and gift for bringing arts-minded people together.

John Morken (1948-2020), a retired international banker and classical pianist, created The Arts Grand Strand as a one-man operation in 2015. The organization produces and maintains a web site, social media presence, the Grand Strand Art Trail map, and a weekly newsletter. Artist William “Billy” Miller entered the Myrtle Beach area in mid-2014 and encountered Morken as Miller was becoming acclimated to his new home. “Everybody says Myrtle Beach doesn’t have any culture, but I’m telling you, they do!" Morken told Miller in one of their earliest conversations. “Do you know how many performances are here? The problem is, nobody knows about them.” Morken raised funds, obtained sponsors, created a board of directors, and built an organization that offers an ongoing, comprehensive guide to all fine, performing, and cultural arts events in the area – all free of charge for arts organizations. “He was diligent about it and really put his heart and soul into it,” said Patricia Goodwin, director of the Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum of Myrtle Beach. Miller, meanwhile, was establishing his own gallery and creating connections within the Myrtle Beach arts community. An empowering leader and arts advocate, Miller said he joined “every arts organization I could find” as a means of building a network. He opened William H. Miller Studios and Fine Art in late 2014 and used it as a home base for his own art as well as others’, in addition to teaching classes, mentoring artists, and holding monthly group exhibits. He became a member of the Board of Trustees at the Myrtle Beach Art Museum in January 2015 and was named the 2020 Business Supporter of the Year by the South Carolina Art Education Association. Over the years, Miller consulted with Morken regularly about The Arts Grand Strand and offered graphic design assistance. When Morken developed health issues, the two began discussing the possibility of Miller’s taking over the helm; upon Morken’s passing in November 2020, Miller knew he would keep his word and maintain the tradition. Miller’s job over the past few months has involved not only reviewing records and acclimating himself to the inner workings of the organization, but also keeping tabs on upcoming events as the arts world awakes from the hibernation of the Covid pandemic. Miller said the role is a great deal of work, but it’s also rewarding and exciting to be on the cusp of renewed artistic activity along the Grand Strand. “It’s exciting to see all the events that are going on, and I feel like I’m in the know first,” said Miller. As a central leader in the local arts community, Miller has plenty of contacts as well as innovative ideas on how to expand and grow the organization. He hopes to transform the Grand Strand Art Trail map into a monthly event featuring extended hours and special activities at area art galleries, as well as a monthly art patrol event of public artists exhibiting their work outside businesses or galleries. “I have lots of ideas of how we can grow the public profile of the local arts community, how we can pull people together,” said Miller. As Miller works in a multitude of ways to build momentum both within the arts industry and out in the community, he sees much promise in the future for the Myrtle Beach area and The Arts Grand Strand. “There’s so much more it could become, and I’m proud to be carrying on John’s work.”
Sara Sobota, Contributing Writer Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum August 9, 2021

Jason Rapp

Tuning Up: Pair of #SCartists recognized with awards

Good morning! 

"Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...

We'll save the medals for Tokyo, but...

Two #SCartists were recently named winners of competitions or calls for art. Press play and read on.

Traci Neal wins York (Pennsylvania) Story Slam

Poet Traci Neal of Columbia competed virtually in the York Story Slam and came out of the experience victorious (Columbia Star). Neal told The Hub that despite being the only South Carolinian and only African American, "What gave me the courage to share my story were the students I had been reading my children’s book series to." She is two books in to the "Lynn Learns Lessons" series she is writing. "My nervousness and fear of failure did not matter to me as much as being an example to the children I had read to. I taught those children about believing in their dreams. I let them know they are the only ones who can stop their dreams from becoming a reality. That is what gave me the strength to share my story ... We only need to believe in it with all our hearts and take action to make it a reality." Neal previously placed second in a virtual poetry slam based in Toronto, Canada.

Mary Robinson wins Koger Center competition

Also in Columbia, visual artist Mary Robinson was selected winner of "The Project: A 2021 Call for Art" from the Koger Center for the Arts. Robinson is a professor of art and head of printmaking at the University of South Carolina School of Visual Art and Design. As the winner, an exhibition focusing on Robinson’s work, with some of the submissions from other artists, will be held in the Upstairs Gallery at the Koger Center for the Arts beginning May 9, 2022. Says Robinson:

The driving question in my artmaking is: how can I visually present both the euphoria and horror I experience in the 21st Century as we humans savor, destroy, and attempt to mend life on Earth?

Through printmaking I draw, carve, etch, print and layer marks to present my experience of being part of a larger life aggregate. I often cut, tear, smother, tangle, weave, glue and stitch the paper and fabric to reflect the ruptures that occur in that aggregate. My concurrent practices of weaving and dyeing fabric with patterns influence (and are influenced by) my printmaking.

"The Project: A 2021 Call for Art" is the Koger Center’s annual artistic competition that supports the work of visual #SCartists. Each year, one chosen artist will receive a $500 stipend, gallery space, and staff support resulting in a free public display in the Upstairs Gallery of the Koger Center.
Graphic says, "Hey you, we are now hiring" and displays SC Arts Commission logo. Click image for more information.

Jason Rapp

Bluffton High senior awarded SOBA scholarship

Naomi McCracken Scholarship goes to Venezuelan-born student

Multimedia artist Nathalia Roca poses with some of her artwork. Photo courtesy of SOBA.

Bluffton High School Senior Nathalia Roca received The Society of Bluffton Artists’ (SOBA) Naomi McCracken Scholarship for students pursuing art in higher education.

Roca, who graduates this month, was accepted to all four of her top college choices. She ultimately settled on attending Columbia College in Chicago as a fine arts major, because of the school’s focus on technology and business courses for artist entrepreneurs. Roca was chosen for the Naomi McCracken Scholarship with the help and collaboration of Andrea Pejeau, fine arts department chair at Bluffton High School. The scholarship applicants must write a personal statement on why they feel they deserve the scholarship and are then interviewed by the SoBA scholarship committee. “Art is my calling, my constant companion, and most importantly, my dominant form of communication,” Roca wrote in her artist’s statement. Roca was born in Venezuela and credits communicating freely in both English and Spanish for enabling her to express her point of view through art. As an artist, Roca says that she does not limit herself to a single medium. She has experience with acrylic, oil, watercolor, pen and ink, pastel, oil pastel, charcoal and scratchboard. “Drawing and painting are my freedom of expression, where no one but me dictates what I do or say,” says Roca.
In their letters of recommendation, Pejeau and Kristen Munroe, a Bluffton High School painting, ceramics and design instructor, describe Roca as a hard-working dedicated student who has already exhibited and sold her work. Roca’s artwork was chosen for a 2018 SOBA exhibit called “Artists In the Making,” where two of her pieces were sold. She has repeatedly won top honors in such youth art events as Promising Picassos and the Scholastic Art Contest. “In all her work, Nathalia shows patience and dedication to meeting the standards she has in mind,” Munroe wrote in her letter of recommendation, adding, “Not only did she have exceptional skills in observation, rendering, value and color; she constant asked for and excelled in more challenging assignments, absorbing every technique and process eagerly, and dedicating hours outside the classroom to practice and investigation.” Pejeau wrote: “Nathalia has the experience of a much older artist. She conceptualizes and executes original work in a wide range of media which she approaches with authority. This young artist is just that. An artist. The rare breed born to create outstanding, already award-winning art with an authentic voice. Never cliche, always interesting.

The Naomi McCracken Scholarship

Naomi McCracken was one of the founding members of SOBA. When Naomi passed away in 2006 her family requested that in lieu of flowers donations should be made to SoBA. In the spring of 2007, her son, Emmitt McCracken, and Dave Dickson, then president of SoBA, established the scholarship program for a graduating senior who planned to further their studies in the field of art.

About the Society of Bluffton Artists

SOBA is the heart of the flourishing art hub in Old Town Bluffton’s historic district at the corner of Church and Calhoun streets. As a non-profit art organization, SOBA offers regular art classes, featured artist shows, exhibitions, scholarships, outreach programs and more. The gallery is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sundays. Please visit www.sobagallery.com for a complete calendar of events and other information or call 843.757.6586.

Jason Rapp

S.C. Arts Awards: Tom Flowers

2021 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year's recipients: seven receiving the South Carolina Governor's Awards for the Arts and two receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.

Tom Flowers

Lifetime Achievement (Posthumous) | Governor's Awards for the Arts

A native of Washington, Flowers was born in 1928. He attended Mount Vernon High School and Furman University on a football scholarship and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in art. He went on to the University of Iowa for his master’s of fine arts. After a short stay in the U.S. Air Force he was drafted in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He taught at Furman University for 30 years, from 1959 to 1989 when he joined the emeritus faculty. Tom was chairman of the art department for most of his tenure at Furman. Prior to that he taught at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina and Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kansas. Flowers exhibited widely as an artist, winning many awards including Springs Mills best-in-show, Art in Architecture Award from the South Carolina American Institutes of Greenville for a carved/painted constructed mural for the Greenville City Hall. He was selected as one of the 100 Artists/100 Years exhibit at the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia. He has had many shows in the Midwest, South, and Southeast. Many of his works are in permanent and private collections including the (South Carolina) State Art Collection, Springs Mills, Greenville County Museum of Art, Asheville Art Museum, Columbia Museum of Art, Florence County Museum, Citizens and Southern Bank, South Carolina National Bank, Federal Reserve Bank of Virginia, and Bank of America (née NationsBank). He was one of 12 artists from South Carolina whose works were presented in the South Carolina National Bank exhibit, The Bicentennial, An Interpretive Approach. His work was also included in the Portrait of the South exhibition in Rome, Italy. He served as president of the Greenville Artist Guild and a board member of the Guild of South Carolina Artists. He was a former member of the board of trustees of the Greenville County Museum of Art, a state representative of the American Craft Council, a member of the Guild of S.C. Artists advisory board, and a Pickens County arts commissioner. Thomas Earl Flowers passed away Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, after his nomination was made in the artist category.

Quotable

Mr. Flowers worked with college students and influenced generations of students throughout his career. He had a way of bringing people together and supported many artists. His impact on the Greenville community and beyond is seen through the work of his students who later became artists, teachers, business leaders, and other professional careers.

Donna Shank Instructor Fine Arts Center Greenville

tom flowers' governor's award statue on statehouse grounds in columbia
The South Carolina Arts Awards stream live Monday, May 24, 2021. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. on SouthCarolinaArts.com. There is no in-person event in 2021. The virtual ceremony will be available on demand from the S.C. Arts Commission YouTube Channel after the livestream presentation.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.

Jason Rapp

S.C. Arts Awards: Marjory Wentworth

2021 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year's recipients: seven receiving the South Carolina Governor's Awards for the Arts and two receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.

Marjory Wentworth

Special Award | Governor's Awards for the Arts

Marjory Wentworth, erstwhile poet laureate of the state of South Carolina, is the New York Times bestselling author of Out of Wonder, Poems Celebrating Poets (with Kwame Alexander and Chris Colderley). She is the co-writer of We Are Charleston, Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel, with Herb Frazier and Dr. Bernard Powers and Taking a Stand, The Evolution of Human Rights, with Juan E. Mendez. She is co-editor, with Kwame Dawes, of Seeking, Poetry and Prose inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green, and the author of the prizewinning children’s story Shackles. Her books of poetry include Noticing Eden, Despite Gravity, The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle and New and Selected Poems. Her poems have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize six times. Wentworth serves on the board of advisors at The Global Social Justice Practice Academy, and she is a 2020 National Coalition Against Censorship Free Speech is for Me Advocate. She teaches courses in writing, social justice and banned books at the College of Charleston and formerly taught courses at The Citadel and Art Institute of Charleston in addition to instructing courses through Roper Hospital and the Medical University of South Carolina. Her career in education began with teaching creative writing at the Charleston County School of the Arts. Since 2012 she serves as an artist in residence with Engaging Creative Minds.

Quotable

...Marjory has been an indefatigable champion for the arts across the state. The office was not ceremonial for her: it was a calling. For 17 years she has followed that calling all over the state, from library to library and school to school, tirelessly (and usually without compensation) promoting the arts, literacy, and creativity to thousands of students, elementary school to college, and teaching us all how writing can help us to understand our world...

Dr. Ed Madden Professor of English University of South Carolina Columbia


The South Carolina Arts Awards stream live Monday, May 24, 2021. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. on SouthCarolinaArts.com. There is no in-person event in 2021. The virtual ceremony will be available on demand from the S.C. Arts Commission YouTube Channel after the livestream presentation.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.

Jason Rapp

S.C. Arts Awards: Robert W. Hill III

2021 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year's recipients: seven receiving the South Carolina Governor's Awards for the Arts and two receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.

Robert W. Hill III

Advocacy Category: American Long Rifle & Accoutrements | Folk Heritage Award

Robert W. Hill III began making duck decoys in his early 20's, and eventually added other figures and animals to his repertoire. Hill’s work ranged from traditional whittling to refined sculptures. Both of his grandfathers were accomplished blacksmiths, woodcarvers, and gun stockers. While neither of them lived long enough to teach Hill their skills, he grew up an avid outdoorsman with an interest in the skills that supported his passion, which included decoy carving, forging knives, and carving gun stocks. In 1985, his desire to own a handmade muzzle- loading rifle drove him to learn more about the traditional crafts of blacksmithing, tool making, stock carving, inlaying, and engraving. While attending art shows across the region, Hill had the opportunity to watch and learn from master engraver Jack Spain. Spain would share tips on engraving and teach Hill how to make his own engraving tools. Back at home, Hill practiced engraving on scrap metal, constantly comparing his work to examples of engraving on historic firearms. He attempted to mimic the work of the Gillespie family of gunsmiths from Pickens County and the Vogler family of Salem, North Carolina. These Carolina gunsmithing families had established styles that were recognized as the best representatives of America’s golden age of gunsmithing. Hill also developed a relationship with master gunsmith Frank Burton, who was running a shop out of Pawleys Island. Burton shared his collection of original Carolina rifles with Hill, who was soon producing his first muzzle-loader. The untimely death of Burton prevented Hill from completing a long-term apprenticeship with the master gunsmith, but he certainly made the most of his time with the artist. Hill attended Dixon’s Gunmaker’s Fair in Kempton, Pennsylvania, a conference of traditional gun makers and after a year of studying and experimenting, Hill completed his first rifle. He took the rifle to the next conference in Kempton and entered it in the competition so he could receive the judges’ critique sheet to learn how to improve. To his surprise, his first rifle won a second- and third- place ribbon in the show. Hill recognized the need to preserve the craft and continued his training by studying historic firearms from the Carolinas. Hill embraced the chance to work with older makers. Today, he is part of a thriving community of gunsmiths and is recognized by gunsmiths across the region as both an exemplary artist and an advocate. The success of his first gun spurred him on to continue gun making and share what he knew with others who wanted to learn the craft and, like him, did not have access to formal training. Hill began demonstrating at Kings Mountain State Park in 1986 and continued to do so until 1999. He has promoted the art of traditional gunsmithing to thousands of people in the Southeast over the past thirty years. He continues to demonstrate gun building techniques, including carving and engraving, at living history events, battlefields, museums, and historic sites. These include Middleton Place, Charlestown Landing, Historic Camden, Horry County Museum, L.W. Paul Living History Farm, House in the Horseshoe, Guilford Courthouse, Colonial Williamsburg, Georgetown County Museum, and the Lake City Museum. He has been the gunsmith at the North Carolina State Fair’s Village of Yesteryear for over twenty years and was instrumental in organizing the South Carolina Muzzleloader Conference at the South Carolina State Museum in 2015, where he volunteered as an event organizer, demonstrator, and lecturer. In 1994, Hill co-founded the South Carolina Artist Blacksmith Association, later to become the Phillip Simmons Artists Blacksmith Guild of South Carolina. He served as president of the group for ten years and frequently demonstrated forging and engraving techniques. He is also a member of the Contemporary Longrifle Association. In 2014, Hill was documented in the Survey of South Carolina Tradition Bearers a joint project of McKissick Museum and the S.C. Arts Commission. Through demonstrations and lectures, he has educated people about gun makers from South Carolina to recognize and preserve the contributions of the artists of the State’s past artists. Hill has been instrumental in passing his skills onto others, including his son and grandson, assuring a legacy of continued preservation, study, and celebration of the traditional craft of gunsmithing.
The South Carolina Arts Awards stream live Monday, May 24, 2021. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. on SouthCarolinaArts.com. There is no in-person event in 2021. The virtual ceremony will be available on demand from the S.C. Arts Commission YouTube Channel after the livestream presentation.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.

Jason Rapp

S.C. Arts Awards: Charlton Singleton

2021 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year's recipients: seven receiving the South Carolina Governor's Awards for the Arts and two receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.

Charlton Singleton

Artist Category | Governor's Awards for the Arts

A native of Awendaw, Charlton Singleton began his musical studies at the age of 3 on the piano. He would then go on to study the organ, violin, cello, and the trumpet throughout elementary, middle and high school. In 1994, he received a bachelor of arts in music performance from South Carolina State University. Since that time, he has taught music at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as being an adjunct faculty member at the College of Charleston. Currently, he is the previous artistic director of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra; an 18-piece jazz ensemble of some of the finest professional musicians in the Southeast and the resident big band in Charleston. Singleton is also the organist and choir director at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Charleston. In November of 2015 he was named the inaugural artist in residence at the recently renovated Gaillard Center in downtown Charleston. As a performer, Charlton leads his own ensembles that vary in size and style. He has performed in France, Great Britain, Scotland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, The Netherlands, as well as many great cities throughout the U.S. He is a member of Grammy Award-winning band Ranky Tanky, a quintet that interprets the sounds of Gullah from the Southeast coast of the U.S. In addition to performing, he is in demand as a speaker, composer, and arranger. He has also shared the stage with and/or worked with some of most talented entertainers in the world, including Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Houston Person, Darius Rucker, Fred Wesley, and Cyrus Chestnut to name a few. Over the past several years, Charlton has emerged as the face of jazz performance in the Lowcountry. With his touring ensemble he models the classic quintet formats of jazz greats Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, and Clark Terry with his unique brand of southern charm and Lowcountry inspired composition.

Quotable

Charlton Singleton consistently impacts our state; the culture, the music and the people. As a mentioned in the opening of this letter, Charlton is a light in the community and is a luminary for us all. He is an outstanding person and defines the criteria of this recognition.

Sterling DeVries Director of Education Charleston Gaillard Center Charleston


The South Carolina Arts Awards stream live Monday, May 24, 2021. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. on SouthCarolinaArts.com. There is no in-person event in 2021. The virtual ceremony will be available on demand from the S.C. Arts Commission YouTube Channel after the livestream presentation.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.

Jason Rapp

S.C. Arts Awards: Colonial Life

2021 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year's recipients: seven receiving the South Carolina Governor's Awards for the Arts and two receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.

Colonial Life

Business/Foundation Category | Governor's Awards for the Arts

Colonial Life’s mission of finding ways to help America’s workers when they face unexpected events and challenging times has made it the extraordinary company we know today. Founded in 1939, it is considered a market leader in providing financial protection benefits through the workplace, including disability, life, accident, dental, cancer, critical illness, and hospital confinement indemnity insurance. Colonial Life has demonstrated a strong commitment to the community through corporate giving for more than 80 years. Annually, the company has made significant investments to improve communities through public education, health and well-being, and arts and culture. Their support extends beyond corporate giving. The company leadership encourages employee philanthropy through its matching gift programs and volunteerism. In 2021, Colonial Life will unveil a refreshed corporate social responsibility strategy that builds on their established strong foundation of helping communities thrive. This strategy comprises four programs within a portfolio of work:
  • Equitable Pathways,
  • Healthier Communities,
  • A Caring Spirit
  • and Ready Response.
Through this portfolio approach, the new strategy is more intentional in supporting social justice causes and key societal issues for positive impact on global, national and local levels. These programs will provide opportunities for the arts to intersect with Colonial Life’s social responsibility initiatives in urban and rural communities throughout the state.

Quotable

...Colonial Life has positioned itself as a progressive and collaborative company committed to the communities it calls home. In addition to the CMA, countless other arts organizations and initiatives across South Carolina have received their support—including the South Carolina Arts Awards. As an exemplary corporate citizen, deeply committed to the arts, Colonial Life is most deserving of this award...

Della Watkins Executive Director Columbia Museum of Art Columbia


The South Carolina Arts Awards stream live Monday, May 24, 2021. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. on SouthCarolinaArts.com. There is no in-person event in 2021. The virtual ceremony will be available on demand from the S.C. Arts Commission YouTube Channel after the livestream presentation.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.

Jason Rapp

S.C. Arts Awards: Jennifer Clark Evins

2021 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year's recipients: seven receiving the South Carolina Governor's Awards for the Arts and two receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.

Jennifer Clark Evins

Individual Category | Governor's Awards for the Arts

As president and CEO, Jennifer Evins heads South Carolina’s oldest arts agency, formed by Nita Milliken and other visionary leaders in the late 50’s and early 60’s after visiting the Winston-Salem Arts Council in 1958. Evins leads the day-to-day operations and management of Chapman Cultural Center—Spartanburg County’s local arts agency—and Mayfair Art Studios. She supervises a staff of 15 full time employees and oversees a $2.5 million annual operating budget with assets exceeding $36 million. Along with county-wide arts coordination, Evins provides visionary leadership for the arts and engages multiple stakeholders on a regular basis. Evins has been heavily involved with the arts in Spartanburg for nearly 22 years. Under her leadership, CCC has partnered with cross-sector agencies including the city and county of Spartanburg on multiple successful public art projects involving coordination among multiple stakeholders. Most notably, she spearheaded the capital fundraising campaign that built the Chapman Cultural Center, raising more than $42 million. Her volunteer leadership of this project spanned ten years of service. Evins authored and lead the winning Bloomberg Philanthropies $1 million Public Art Challenge “Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light” and helped the city of Spartanburg earn the South Carolina Cultural District designation for Downtown Spartanburg—the second in the state and the only official S.C. Cultural District in the Upstate. Most recently, Evins led the successful fundraising campaign for the expansion of the Chapman Cultural Center brand through its newest arts incubator, Mayfair Art Studios. Through her visionary leadership, Mayfair open in 2020 and is a space designed to make the arts accessible to all by providing studio spaces for both professional and amateur artists in a range of artistic and creative disciplines. In volunteer service, Evins is chairwoman of the Spartanburg Academic Movement, serves on the OneSpartanburg Inc. Vision Advisory Committee and is on the Executive Committee of the Board of SC Arts Alliance. She serves on the Noble Tree Foundation Board and the President’s Advisory Board for Wofford College and the USC Upstate Johnson College of Business and Economics. Evins is a retired Trustee and past Chairwoman of the Spartanburg County Foundation. Jennifer is a Diversity Leadership Fellow of the Riley Institute and a Hull Fellow of the Southeastern Council on Foundations. Evins has received numerous awards including The Mary Mildred Sullivan Award by Wofford College; Neville Holcombe Distinguished Citizenship Award by the Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce; South Carolina Woman of Achievement by the South Carolina Business and Professional Woman; Leadership Spartanburg Alumnus of the Year; Duke Energy Service to the Community Award; Distinguished Service Award from the South Carolina Governor’s School of the Arts and Humanities; and the Leadership Honoree of the Mary L .Thomas Award for Civic Leadership & Community Change by Spartanburg County Foundation. Prior to joining the nonprofit sector, Evins had a 15-year professional career in marketing and public relations.  Her last assignment was as public affairs director at WSPA-TV.

Quotable

...Jennifer has helped shape the future of our statewide organization and help set the tone for many of the statewide trends in the arts now in play. She asks the hard questions, helps develop appropriate solutions to issues, and celebrates accomplishments with true joy. Jennifer’s active participation in our work has made our organization stronger, and continues to make our state more creative...

GP McLeer Executive Director South Carolina Arts Alliance Fountain Inn


The South Carolina Arts Awards stream live Monday, May 24, 2021. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. on SouthCarolinaArts.com. There is no in-person event in 2021. The virtual ceremony will be available on demand from the S.C. Arts Commission YouTube Channel after the livestream presentation.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.

Jason Rapp

S.C. Arts Awards: Jugnu Verma

2021 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year's recipients: seven receiving the South Carolina Governor's Awards for the Arts and two receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.

Jugnu Verma

Artist Category: Traditional Indian Folk Arts | Folk Heritage Award

Jugnu Verma was born in Bihar, the state in India where the art form Madhubani painting originated. Growing up in Bihar, Verma found herself surrounded by Madhubani artists, whose painting was characterized by distinctive geometric patterns. Madhubani paintings depict people, nature, and scenes featuring Hindu deities. Objects like the sun and moon are also common, along with scenes from the royal court and social events like weddings. Madhubani painting was one of the skills passed down, primarily by women, from generation to generation in the families of the Mithila Region of Bihar. Verma developed an interest in it at an early age. She was fascinated by the variety of tools involved in creating the paintings, including the fingers, twigs, and brushes. Verma took the initiative and learned the art form from her neighbors. Rangoli, another traditional art form with cultural significance in the Indian community, involves the creation of colorful patterns on the floor using sand, flower petals, rice flour, lentils, and beans. Verma learned rangoli from her neighbor’s grandmother, who taught her the different styles and symbolism within the art. Over the years, Verma improvised and took her work in a variety of creative directions. Typically, rangolis are made at the entrance of homes and temples to bring good luck and as a welcome symbol for visitors. They are an important part of celebratory festivals like Diwali and Onam. Henna is a plant-based dye that is used to create temporary designs on the body and is an integral part of Indian weddings and festivals. During a traditional Indian wedding, the mehndi (henna) ceremony involves applying henna designs to the bride and to the guests. Verma learned the traditional art from her mother, a seasoned henna artist. Growing up, Verma created henna designs on her sisters, cousins, aunts, and friends. Thirty years later, henna artistry has become an important part of Verma’s creative lifestyle, and she is a prominent henna artist in South Carolina. Verma is eager and enthusiastic about sharing her artistic traditions through her work as a Diwali (Indian Festival of Lights) party organizer and in workshops, and exhibitions at the Columbia Museum of Art; the rangoli educator at Overdue: Curated for the Creative, Richland County Main Library; and as a lead artist at Artista Vista in Columbia. Verma enjoys working with young people and teaches traditional Indian art forms extensively in the local school districts. Verma feels it is important for South Carolinians to know about India and its culture and she serves as a cultural ambassador through her work throughout the state. She is passionate about cultural outreach and building bonds with the larger community. According to Verma, “Folk art enhances and enriches celebrations and rituals, and it tells people who others are.”
The South Carolina Arts Awards stream live Monday, May 24, 2021. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. on SouthCarolinaArts.com. There is no in-person event in 2021. The virtual ceremony will be available on demand from the S.C. Arts Commission YouTube Channel after the livestream presentation.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.