Submitted material

Landmark exhibition of Southern women artists coming to the Upstate

Soft color oil painting of women packing peaches in 1938.

Wenonah Bell. Peach Packing, Spartanburg County. 1938. 38 1/8 x 48 1/8 inches. Oil on canvas.

The critically acclaimed, nationally touring exhibition Central to Their Lives: Southern Women Artists in the Johnson Collection will be on view at The Johnson Collection in Spartanburg starting next month.

The exhibition will run from Sept. 7, 2020 to Dec. 18 at Wofford College. Spanning the decades between the late 1890s and early 1960s, Central to Their Lives examines the particularly complex challenges Southern women artists confronted in a traditionally conservative region during a period in which women’s social, cultural, and political roles were being redefined and reinterpreted.

After opening at the Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, the exhibition traveled to the Mississippi Museum of Art (Jackson), the Huntington Museum of Art (West Virginia), the Dixon Gallery and Gardens (Memphis), and the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston. The Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts at Wofford College in Spartanburg—the Johnson Collection’s hometown—is the fifth stop on the exhibition’s six-state, three-year tour.

Among the works on view, several are of local interest. Wenonah Bell’s Peach Packing, Spartanburg County captures the importance of women to South Carolina’s thriving peach industry during the 1930s and 1940s, and works by Spartanburg natives Margaret Law, Josephine Couper, and Blondelle Malone speak to the artists’ indelible legacy in their hometown and beyond.


Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts is open to the public from Tuesday to Friday from 1-5 p.m. Please check the museum and gallery’s web page prior to your visit to review the latest campus health protocols. Free.


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