Step right up! Sideshows in American Culture at McKissick Museum

Step Right Up! Sideshows in American Culture will be on display Jan. 19 – May 21 at the University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum. The exhibit is free and the public is invited to the opening reception on Thursday, Jan. 24 from 5:30 – 7:30 pm.

Featuring the work of Beaufort-based visual artist Rebecca Davenport, Step Right Up! explores the sideshow as a cultural phenomenon during the late 19th century and continuing today. Focusing on several key themes, the exhibition will explore the dynamic nature of sideshow culture, the concept of “the other,” and the public perception of showmanship and exploitation. “Ideas of what defines ‘normalcy” are very subjective,” says Saddler Taylor, McKissick Museum’s chief curator of Folklife and Fieldwork. “The history of the sideshow provides an opportunity to explore the complexities involved with defining what being ‘normal’ means and why we as human beings are so fascinated with the unfamiliar, the mysterious.”

The exhibition features more than 20 large format paintings and mixed media works by Davenport, historic photographs, sideshow banners and classic gaffes like the two-headed baby and feejee mermaid.

Several programs are planned for early 2013, including a film screening on April 12 and a symposium on March 28.

For more information, visit McKissick Museum’s website.

Image: Rebecca Davenport, Keechee and the Giant Vacuum

Via: McKissick Museum

Rebecca Davenport’s work, Pumpkin, is in the State Art Collection.