Countdown to SC Arts Awards Day – highlighting awards recipients

SC Arts AwardsWednesday, May 11 is a big day for the arts in South Carolina! The day begins at 11 a.m. in the lower lobby of the State House with awards presentations to recipients of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Art and the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards. The awards presentation is free and open to the public. Other events include a ticketed luncheon and the South Carolina Arts Gala, which features an art sale of original works by some of the state’s finest contemporary artists AND a dance party with The Root Doctors!

Overview of events (find more at

  • 11 a.m. – State House awards presentation to recipients of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts and the Folk Heritage Awards; free and open to the public.
  • 12:30 p.m. – luncheon hosted by McKissick Museum at Michael’s Cafe, 1620 Main St., Columbia. Tickets $20; reservations required by May 4. Email or call Jane Przybysz, (803) 777-3712 or
  • 6:15 p.m. – concert featuring bluegrass and gospel; recognition of award recipients, in the Granby Room, 701 Whaley Street (in the same building as the gala). Free and open to the public.
  • 7:15 p.m. – South Carolina Arts Gala, presented by the South Carolina Arts Foundation as a fundraiser to support S.C. Arts Commission programs, including arts education and artist development. The gala features an art sale and dance party with The Root Doctors, 701 Whaley St., Tickets $75; purchase online at or call (803) 734-8696.

Meet two of this year’s Verner Award recipients (and check back each day for additional spotlights):

Mary Edna Fraser, Artist

Mary Edna FraserThe pioneering work of Charleston artist Mary Edna Fraser has been collected and exhibited worldwide. Captivated by the complex patterns of land and water when viewed from high above, she has been exploring aerial landscapes for more than a quarter century. Using her own aerial photography along with satellite photography, maps, and charts, Fraser composes pieces in the ancient textile medium of batik using modern dye technology. Her stunning works on silk have incredible visual impact by virtue of their scale and compelling designs.

Fraser’s interest in the environment enables her to bridge two areas often seen as opposites: art and science. Her art not only offers a creative depiction of watersheds and landscapes but communicates a broader message of conservation and stewardship. Her working relationship with Dr. Orrin H. Pilkey of Duke University resulted in two widely acclaimed publications illustrated with Fraser’s batiks: A Celebration of the World’s Barrier Islands, and Global Climate Change: A Primer.

Fraser is a widely recognized master artist with numerous awards and a growing international reputation, having lectured abroad in countries including Australia, Indonesia and Taiwan. She has had more than 100 one-woman exhibitions of batiks and monotypes, including venues such as the National Academy of Sciences and Duke University Museum of Art. She was the first woman to have a solo exhibition at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. Her work is in a number of important private and public collections, most notably the Elliot School of International Affairs  and  George  Washington  University,  the  Heinz  Center  for  Science,  Economics  and  the Environment in Washington, D.C., the New England Aquarium in Boston, the American Embassy in Thailand, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Through her work, Fraser has presented the natural beauty of South Carolina’s coastline to the world.

Betty Plumb, Individual

Betty PlumbFor the past 27 years, Betty Plumb has been the principal voice for public support for the arts in South Carolina. As the executive director of the South Carolina Arts Alliance, she transformed the grass-roots advocacy organization into the most influential and effective champion of the arts in the public arena in South Carolina. In S.C. and across the country, her name is synonymous with exemplary arts leadership and effective arts advocacy.

While much of her effort has been directed to maintaining sustainable funding for national and state arts agencies, she has been remarkably successful in advocating for funding and public policies that support quality arts education, strong local arts organizations, issues important to artists’ careers, and developing networks of arts advocates. These networks are continually strengthened by Plumb’s willingness to share resources, conduct workshops and serve on panels to educate nonprofit leaders on best advocacy practices. She is also active in recruiting younger advocates and has lectured in arts management programs at the College of Charleston, USC, and Winthrop University.

Plumb has twice been listed among the 50 Most Powerful and Influential Leaders in the Nonprofit Arts in America by Barry’s Blog, a website published by the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF). She received the Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award from Americans for the Arts and the Medal of Honor in the Arts from Winthrop University.

Thanks to Betty Plumb’s dedication and hard work, the arts are thriving in South Carolina.

The 2016 Verner Awards are sponsored by Colonial Life.