Jason Rapp

From The State: Sweetgrass basketry fighting for survival

A tradition in peril


Sweetgrass basketry intertwines with South Carolina heritage in the same way that the grasses come together to form the renowned finished product.

But for how much longer will it be part of the present? Today, Caitlin Byrd of The State tries to get a grasp on the situation (subscription possibly required):

Also driving up the price of baskets is the increased development in the coastal region, which continues to cut off access to the very plants Black families use to make sweetgrass baskets. And then there’s the concern about time itself, as a generation of sewers worry that this craft, which can trace its origins to the 17th century, will not be carried on in the way it once was.

This traditional art form is no stranger to The Hub or the South Carolina Arts Commission.
  • Sweetgrass basketmakers have been Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award recipients many times since the first in 1990, and the most recent was in 2018. (The Folk Heritage Award is presented annually by the SCAC and its partner the University of South Carolina McKissick Museum.)
  • A basket by Mary Jackson, one of the most decorated artisans, is included in the State Art Collection and is included in The State's story.

Jason Rapp

Tell your rural innovation story

South Carolina's rural and small communities have countless stories of innovation.

As it creates a new exhibit called "Spark! Places of Innovation," the Smithsonian Institution Museum on Main Street program is gathering technology, culture and heritage, social, economic and business innovation stories (and more).

The SCAC's Community Arts Development team partners with Museum on Main Street, and is encouraging YOU to submit South Carolina stories, particularly if they involve:
  • creativity,
  • makers,
  • the arts,
  • folklife,
  • or a community/placemaking aspect!
If you have one (and we know you do!), visit this link to pitch in.

Jason Rapp

New poster series promotes vaccine effort

Creativity + Public Health from the SCAC


Plan your vaccine—that’s the latest message on a series of public health posters created over the last 12 months in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of the cross-sector initiative of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) called The Art of Community: Rural SC, a community of artists, makers, organizations and local voices have helped support and advance what it means to be healthy and safe through quarantine, closing and opening schools, restaurants, offices and more.
  • BONUS CONTENT: Lea esta historia en español a continuación.
Working with artist Amiri Farris of Bluffton, the SCAC team has used artful and timely messaging to remind people to social distance, wash hands, cover sneezes and coughs, make self-care a priority, uplift and thank essential workers, and love community. “These posters use the full spectrum of ‘rainbow colors’ that get people’s attention,” Farris said. Having empathy for one another is something Farris stresses. “I really want to hug people but we can’t do that, so these posters are a way to reach out to people; to thank workers who are all keeping us all safe and healthy; and to remind us to maintain healthy protocols during times of crisis.” With the expansion of the vaccine eligibility to include a wider array of individuals, this latest poster is just in time. “Special thanks to our internal team who has worked behind the scenes to get these posters created and out—Laura Marcus Green, Abigail Rawl and Jason Rapp,” said Community Arts Program Director Susan DuPlessis. “And to our public health partners who value the role of arts and culture in our state—including the Department of Health and Environmental Control, the South Carolina Office of Rural Health, UofSC schools of public health and medicine.” “And an extra thanks to Maribel Acosta of Art Pot in Berkeley County who helped us create Spanish-language versions of these posters so they have an impact with even more people in our state,” Green said. “We know there is an intersection with the arts and everything in our lives, but it’s especially gratifying in times like these to see how arts and creativity can help our public health experts promote important messages so many people need to hear,” SCAC Executive Director David Platts said. “Partnerships like these further the public value of arts and creativity to all South Carolinians.” The Art of Community: Rural SC is a place-based initiative working in 14 rural communities and the Catawba Indian Nation. “Using arts and culture strategically to advance local places is the essence of our approach. These posters are a great example of what it means to lift local voices and amplify creative spirits for the good of everyone,” DuPlessis said. “We are truly in this moment together.”

The latest statistics on COVID-19 in South Carolina

  • 455,495 total cases
  • 7,851 confirmed deaths
  • as of March 16, 2021
Source: South Carolina Dept. of Health & Environmental Control

Creatividad + Salud Pública del SCAC

Planifique su vacuna- Este es el mensaje más reciente de una serie de carteles de salud pública creados durante los últimos 12 meses en respuesta a la pandemia de COVID-19.

Como parte de la iniciativa intersectorial de la Comisión de Artes de Carolina del Sur llamada The Art of Community: Rural SC (El arte de la comunidad: Rural SC), una comunidad de artistas, creadores, organizaciones y voces locales han ayudado a apoyar y promover lo que significa estar sano y seguro a través de la cuarentena, con el cierre y apertura de escuelas, restaurantes, oficinas y más. En colaboración con la artista Amiri Farris de Bluffton, Carolina del Sur, el equipo de la Comisión de las Artes ha utilizado mensajes ingeniosos y oportunos para recordar a las personas la distancia social, lavarse las manos, cubrirse los estornudos y la tos, hacer del cuidado personal una prioridad, animar y agradecer a los trabajadores esenciales y el amor a la comunidad. “Estos carteles utilizan el espectro completo de los colores del arco iris que llaman la atención de la gente,” dijo Farris. Tener empatía el uno por el otro es algo que Farris enfatiza. “Tengo muchas ganas de abrazar a la gente, pero no podemos hacer eso, así que estos carteles son una forma de llegar a las personas; agradecer a los trabajadores que nos mantienen a todos seguros y saludables; y recordarnos que debemos mantener protocolos saludables en tiempos de crisis.” Con la expansión de la elegibilidad de la vacuna para incluir una gama más amplia de personas, este último cartel llega justo a tiempo. “Un agradecimiento especial a nuestro equipo interno que ha trabajado entre bastidores para crear y publicar estos carteles: Laura Marcus Green, Abigail Rawl y Jason Rapp,” dijo la directora del programa de artes comunitarias, Susan DuPlessis. “Y a nuestros socios de salud pública que valoran el papel de las artes y la cultura en nuestro estado, incluido el Departamento de Salud y Control Ambiental, la Oficina de Salud Rural de Carolina del Sur, la Escuela de Salud Pública de la Universidad de Carolina del Sur y la Escuela de Medicina de la Universidad de Carolina del Sur.” “Y un agradecimiento adicional a Maribel Acosta de Art Pot, en el condado de Berkeley, que nos ayudó a crear una versión en español de estos carteles para que tengan un impacto a más personas en nuestro estado,” dijo Green. "Sabemos que hay una intersección con las artes y todo en nuestras vidas, pero es especialmente gratificante en tiempos como estos ver cómo las artes y la creatividad pueden ayudar a nuestros expertos en salud pública a promover mensajes importantes que muchas personas necesitan escuchar", dijo el Director Ejecutivo de SCAC, David Platts. "Asociaciones como estas mejoran aún más el valor público de las artes y la creatividad para todos los carolinos del sur." El arte de la comunidad: Rural SC es una iniciativa de educación basada en la región, que trabaja en 14 comunidades rurales y la nación indígena Catawba. “Usar el arte y la cultura de manera estratégica para promover los lugares locales es la esencia de nuestro enfoque.  Estos carteles son un gran ejemplo de lo que significa levantar las voces locales y amplificar las mentes creativas por el bien de todos,” dijo DuPlessis. "Realmente estamos juntos en este momento."
  • 455,495 casos totales
  • 7,851 muertes
  • 16 de marzo de 2021
Fuente: South Carolina Dept. of Health & Environmental Control

Jason Rapp

Love at first arc for S.C. welder

New direction leads to arts entrepreneurship


The Hub was honestly not expecting a don't-miss story from The Welder.

Shame on us. Do yourself a favor and read the story of Kristen Albro of Charleston from the Illinois-based trade publication. Writer Amanda Carlson does a terrific profile of the unexpected blacksmith. Here's a small excerpt:

As a veteran of the Air Force, Albro spent her time in service as an aircraft mechanic. Later she earned a degree in criminal justice with a minor in intelligence and homeland security from The Citadel. Seeing the writing on the wall about a white-collar desk job, the lifelong artist did a little soul-searching about what exactly would make her happy. Working with your hands can lead to many pathways, but she landed on welding because she wondered if she could somehow incorporate that into her art.

Carlson mentions Albro's techniques and inspiration and how the two came together to form her entrepreneurial artistic venture. We'll stop there, because you should just go read it right now (TheFabricator.com).
Photo by Kateryna Babaieva from Pexels

Submitted material

College of Charleston’s Valerie Morris announces retirement

Long-time, accomplished arts dean exiting the stage


For 22 years Valerie Morris, dean of the College of Charleston School of the Arts, has sat in the audience at music and dance performances, theater productions and art lectures and presentations.

She has served as a member of various boards and joined committees to raise funds. A perennial champion of the arts, Morris has always been there, standing off stage, determinedly cheering. And it’s an essential role in a city where the arts often take center stage. “I have known Dean Morris for years as a fellow Rotarian and through her leadership in Charleston’s thriving arts community,” says Charleston Mayor John T. Tecklenburg. “Simply put, she’s been amazing in her impact on the arts scene here in Charleston, along with her personal joie de vivre!”
Morris’s “joie de vivre” or enthusiasm for the arts began at a young age. Growing up in Beverly, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, she first became interested in the arts at the age of six after an aunt took her to see the movie Hans Christian Anderson starring Danny Kaye. Then she became very active in the local children’s theater and “used every excuse to spend backstage” at the North Shore Music Theatre, the largest operating regional theater in New England. “I guess from the age of 6, I always felt pushed towards the arts,” Morris said, noting that in high school her focus shifted to public speaking and promoting the arts, which won her an award for marketing her high school’s productions. “First, I wanted to perform, then I realized I wanted to be around artists of all types, and to help them achieve their goals.” And that first meant achieving her goals. Morris received her bachelor’s degree in speech arts from American University and a master in speech with a theatre administration emphasis from the University of Michigan. Her career in the arts really picked up when she joined the faculty of American University’s Department of Performing Arts, where she became the founding director of that institution’s Arts Management program. According to Karen Chandler, associate professor of arts management at the College, Morris forged a path for women in the field. “When I entered the field in the early ’80s, Valerie was one of a handful of women arts leaders who had founded and very successfully developed a program in arts management (at American University),” says Chandler, who also worked alongside Morris at American University.
Morris came to the College as dean of the School of the Arts in the fall of 1998. Since then, she has helped establish the undergraduate Arts Management Program and the Graduate Certificate in Arts and Cultural Management, as well as the Historic Preservation and Community Planning Program. Under Morris’s leadership, the School of the Arts has grown and flourished, including earning the South Carolina Governor’s Award for the Arts, the state’s highest award in the arts. Other highlights of Morris’ tenure include helping to launch the Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts in January 2010. The $27.2 million dollar, 70,000-square-foot building is a testament to the growth of the school from a small fine arts department into a comprehensive arts school with seven academic departments and programs. Morris also expanded the School of the Arts Council and, in 2003, established the Friends of the School of the Arts, a membership program that funds scholarships, student travel for competitions and productions, visiting artists, faculty research and development, and international recruitment efforts. And Morris’s hard work has garnered the attention and support of some of CofC’s most esteemed arts alumni, including acclaimed painter Brian Rutenberg (Class of 1987). “To excel as an artist, one needs to be organized, possess a clear-eyed vision and have a great sense of humor. These same qualities apply to leading an entire art school,” says Rutenberg. “Valerie has all of these attributes, plus she is a skillful communicator. Her creation is the world-class reputation that the School of the Arts at the College of Charleston enjoys today. We are all the beneficiaries of her effort.”
As for what comes next, Morris says her future will always include the arts as well as a focus on family. “I’m keeping active on local, regional and national boards,” she says. “Eventually, my husband and I plan to spend considerable time on the West Coast, where my children and grandchildren live.” To honor Morris’s 22 years of service to the College and the School of the Arts, longtime College of Charleston advocates, donors and volunteers Jean and Tap Johnson have established a scholarship in her name. It’s a fitting honor for someone who has done so much for CofC. “Valerie has been a consummate mentor, advisor and colleague over the past 25 years. But more importantly, she is a trusted supporter and dear friend,” says Chandler. “She deserves to do whatever she wants now, feeling satisfied about the outstanding contributions she’s made to the arts infrastructure in so many places – and especially here at CofC.”

Jason Rapp

A look at SLED’s forensic artists

Bringing descriptions to life


Most of the time, being the subject for a professional artist is an aspiration, if not a treat.

If you are a subject for artists Deborah Goff or Lara Gorick, you've made some questionable life choices. Both are senior special agents with the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), and both use their artistic skills to help law enforcement find alleged criminals on the lam. WCBD TV-2 in Charleston aired a fascinating story with the SLED agents last week. It takes a good look at the process of putting a forensic sketch together and the services these unique #SCartists provide:
  • composite sketches
  • forensic facial reconstructions
  • post-mortem images
  • and age progressions.
It's definitely worth a watch:

GP McLeer

Live from an arts school

Today only!


Our future is in good hands!

Today is all about Arts Education, because the arts are alive in South Carolina schools! Hear from the students and schools benefiting from the arts. Today, the South Carolina Arts Alliance is teaming up with our friends at the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project to bring you a series of Facebook Live events held around the state by various schools who have received ABC Advancement Grants and who place value on the arts in their school day. Click here to see the schedule, and tune to each school's Facebook page to catch it all live.

About the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project

The Arts in Basic Curriculum (ABC) Project provides leadership to achieve quality, comprehensive arts education (dance, music, media arts, theatre, visual arts and creative writing) for all students in South Carolina. The ABC Project is cooperatively directed by the South Carolina Arts Commission, the South Carolina Department of Education and the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Winthrop University. ABC Grants currently provide quality arts education to 170,730 students at 84 sites throughout the state, enabled by Education Improvement Act Funds approved by the General Assembly, and administered by the South Carolina Arts Commission. Unfortunately, as demand for grants and services continues to grow, no new applications are being accepted due to insufficient funding. This year, we are requesting a $500,000 increase in EIA/SCAC funding to increase the ABC Project's impact.
GP McLeer is executive director of the South Carolina Arts Alliance.

Mass shooting memorial wins outdoor sculpture competition for Doster

Decorated South Carolinian wins in North Carolina

The winning sculpture by Bob Doster, A Memorial
Bob Doster is no stranger to accolades, and now he has another. The Lancaster sculptor's all-too-timely entry in the 33rd Rosen Outdoor Sculpture Competition and Exhibition won first place in the late July. A Memorial 2014-2018 "is a memorial to those lost to senseless violence for the years 2014-2018. each figure represents a lost soul rising to the heavens," according to the artist statement. The tragedies this past weekend in Texas and Ohio render the work unfortunately relevant. In the High Country Press, competition juror Bill Brown from Anvil Arts said, “This is a strong thought-provoking piece created in stainless steel that addresses senseless gun violence as it memorializes victims of mass shootings. I believe it is a must-see piece of art.” If you want to do just that, head to Boone, North Carolina and the campus of Appalachian State University. The sculptures are to be displayed until May 2020.
Bob DosterDoster is an award-winning, nationally acclaimed artist who has been creating and teaching for more than 50 years. Prestigious awards include the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor's Award for the Arts in 2006. Doster has been named Keeper of Culture by the York Heritage & Cultural Commission, Hero of the Child by SC First Steps, Small Business of the Years by Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce, CN2 Hometown Hero and received City of Lancaster Mayoral Proclamation. Doster has been featured in publications and broadcasts including Southern Living Magazine, Carolina Arts, Sandlapper, SCETV, Arts Hub, National Welders Magazine, and a myriad of newspapers and travel magazines. Works by Doster can be found in museums, galleries, public art, corporate and private collections worldwide.

Submitted material

Fulbright grant sending Furman musicologist to Russia

Laura Kennedy, Furman University associate professor of musicology, has received a Fulbright U.S. Scholar award to conduct research in Russia during the 2019/2020 academic year. For her research project, “Ballet in a Waning Empire: Shostakovich, Lopukhov, and the Search for Soviet Dance,” Kennedy will work in music and dance archives in St. Petersburg and Moscow. She will research costumes, set designs, choreographic notes, musical scores, photographs and other materials from early Soviet ballet productions written in Leningrad in the 1920s and 1930s, a formative period of experimentation in the Russian arts. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, the Fulbright honor represents a national competition across the humanities, arts, sciences and education. Grantees undergo a rigorous peer-review process, in which proposals are evaluated in both the U.S. and destination countries and are finally selected by the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board. “I’m thrilled with the opportunity of this Fulbright and with the chance to pursue new research on Russian ballet. My goal is to author the first book ever written on the ballets of Dmitri Shostakovich: The Golden Age, The Bolt, and The Limpid Stream,” said Kennedy. “These early ballets set the direction of Soviet dance, ensuring ballet’s place as a central expression of Soviet cultural achievement and diplomacy in the 20th century.”


This latest Fulbright award marks Kennedy’s second grant to study in Russia. Her first Fulbright was awarded to conduct research in 2006/2007 on Shostakovich when she was a doctoral candidate at the University of Michigan. “The Fulbright Scholar award combines my expertise in Shostakovich’s music and manuscripts with my work on dance,” said Kennedy. “I’m grateful to the Department of Music, the Research & Professional Growth Committee, and the Humanities Development Fund at Furman for generously supporting the opportunities that have shaped my scholarship in music and dance. And I’m equally grateful to the Fulbright program for the unique experiences it has afforded me as a scholar,” said Kennedy.
Kennedy joined the Furman faculty in 2012. She coordinates the music history curriculum and teaches courses on music and dance history. With Patricia Sasser, director of Furman’s Maxwell Music Library, she also co-directs the department’s study away course to Paris and London: “Rites of Spring: Paris, the Ballets Russes, & the Arts of Modernism.” Her work has been published in Fontes Artis Musicae, Notes: The Journal of the Music Library Association, the Journal of Music History Pedagogy, and Information Literacy in Music (A-R Editions). She holds a bachelor’s in music from Wheaton College and a Ph.D. in historical musicology from the University of Michigan. For more information, contact the Furman News and Media Relations office at 864.294.3107.

Submitted material

Furman music librarian Sasser honored with international award

Patricia Puckett Sasser, director of Furman’s Maxwell Music Library, has won the Vladimir Fédorov Award from the International Association of Music Libraries (IAML) for her paper “A Recording Artist: Enrico Caruso and His Scrapbooks.” Presented annually, the award recognizes the best article published in peer-reviewed Fontes Artis Musicae, the quarterly membership journal of the IAML. Announced at the IAML Conference in Krákow, Poland, in July, the award is named for Fédorov (1901-1979), noted music librarian, first editor-in-chief of Fontes Artis Musicae, and Russian music scholar. An abstract of Sasser’s winning paper may be found at: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/709645.


Sasser, who has served as a Furman library faculty member since 2014, said, “I was surprised and delighted to receive this award, both because it is a special honor to be recognized by my IAML colleagues and because it represents the culmination of a long-standing research project. “My work on Caruso has been generously supported by the Furman Libraries and it could not have been achieved without their help and enthusiasm–whether by locating resources or by funding research trips to New York and Italy.” As director of Maxwell Music Library, Sasser oversees music information literacy, research assistance and collection management. She is deeply embedded in the Department of Music’s four-year curricular pathway, working closely with students and faculty in first-year seminars, the music history survey sequence and upper-level independent studies. With Associate Professor of Musicology Laura Kennedy, Sasser co-teaches the department’s study away course to Paris and London: Rites of Spring: Paris, the Ballets Russes, & the Arts of Modernism. Her research focuses on musical ephemera from the late 19th and early 20th century, studying items like ticket stubs, newspaper clippings, playbills, programs and receipts–“things produced during artistic activity that aren’t intended to be preserved,” said Sasser. She is especially interested in the ways in which both amateur and professional musicians have collected and curated such material in order to shape their own identities, a fascination which spurred her research into Caruso’s scrapbooks, nine of which survive among his private papers. “His scrapbooks,” said Sasser, “are just one example of the ways in which a popular artist sought to cultivate a private identity.” Her work has been published in Music Reference Services Quarterly, Notes: The Journal of the Music Library Association, and the Journal of Music History Pedagogy. She has contributed to a number of large-scale collaborative digital projects, including Chronicling America and the Music Treasures Consortium, and has served the Southeastern Music Library Association and the Music Library Association in a number of roles.
Sasser earned her Master of Music from the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, and her Master of Library and Information Science from the University of South Carolina. She holds a bachelor’s in music from the American University. For more information, contact Sasser at 864.294.2192.