From dancer to silversmith, it’s all about creativity
Jo Ann Graham is one of the artists whose work can be purchased at the April Showers Art Party April 5. Tickets are $75.
From The Island News
Article by Aileen Goldstein; photos by Bob Sofaly
Her gracefulness is obvious. Her slender build is a reminder of her past career. Her moves are free-flowing and smooth. She is understated, yet hard to ignore.
Jo Ann Graham has the movements of a dancer.
Naturally brilliant in chemistry, her parents sent her to college to major in that field. After two years, Graham left college, married and became a potter, creating and shaping clay and developing her own glazes and finishes.
She eventually realized, though, that she was not meant to be a potter.
A self-proclaimed closet dancer, Graham came to the understanding she was a dancer.
“It was something that was meant to be and I had a natural propensity towards it. I loved choreographing. I loved creating,” the Dataw Island resident said.
Graham went on to teach dance. She became the first dance consultant in the South Carolina Department of Education and helped to build the dance programs in all the schools in South Carolina and developed a dance curriculum.
“I think there is a connection. It is all about centering and being centered for me. You have to center your clay and in dancing, you are centering yourself. You have to turn around and spin,” she said as she waved her arm gracefully through the air.
When she was physically unable to demonstrate moves for her students, Graham was forced to realize she needed to end her dancing career.
After a series of health-related setbacks, Graham needed a new focus.
While taking a class at a local scrapbook store, she created a necklace from the wire provided while other people in the class documented memories with paper and stamps.
She realized she liked working with metal, especially the shaping and texturing of the material.
Ironically, she was unaccustomed to wearing jewelry, as dancers refrain from wearing it.
“I spent my whole life living in the world of dance and everything was ephemeral and I didn’t have anything to hold on to. Now I have this to hold on to.”
Interestingly enough, she now has people come up to her booth at art shows and comment on her work, remarking how fluid a piece may be.
Graham takes these moments as an opportunity to connect to the customer and share her past.
“I am thoroughly convinced that my dance career is influencing whatever I make, whatever comes out of me,” she said.
She also continues to seek new information and add to her vast array of skills. Upon learning that welding school is free to those over the age of 65, she signed up for classes and developed a technique to solder sterling silver to steel. Most recently, she learned how to put gold onto steel to create eye-catching cuffs.
“I am so fascinated by what I can do with metal,” she said with a twinkle in her eye.
All of her work starts out as flat sheets of sterling silver or steel and all is hand-forged to create one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry.
Her favorite part of working with metals and creating is the surprises that come up during the process. She never knows where the gold will fuse with the steel and what the unique outcome will be on each piece.
Graham has come full circle and realizes the value of her chemistry background in regard to her current career.
“If you look deep enough, everything is connected,” she said.
Graham flourishes in the solitude of her home studio and is equally energized at art shows when meeting customers. She has received many awards and accolades from the art shows she has participated in.
Graham came up with the name of her business, Silver Lining Dezigns, after awaking from a dream. She has recently decided to shorten the name to the initials, SLD.
She admits, though, she never in her wildest dreams ever though she would be creating jewelry for a living.
“Things are often put in my hands and I have to learn to follow and pay attention,” she said. “I love my new career, I now choreograph in sterling silver and these (the work) are my dances.”
Contact Graham at 843-838-7170 or 843-812-3190 or on Facebook.
April Showers is tonight! Tickets available at the door
The April Showers Art Party originally scheduled for April 5 has been RESCHEDULED for Thursday, April 6 at 7 p.m. at 701 Whaley – the same time and location. We hope you will be able to join us. Ticket holders who cannot attend Thursday may request a refund by emailing Angela Brewbaker.
Tickets will be available at the door for Thursday, April 6.
April Showers Art Party kicks off 50th Anniversary celebration
Since 1967, the South Carolina Arts Commission has served as an umbrella for the arts, working collaboratively in all regions of the state to help establish and support arts organizations, arts education programs and artist development endeavors. With the umbrella as a prominent feature, the South Carolina Arts Foundation is presenting the April Showers Art Party April 5 to kick off the celebration of the Arts Commission's 50th Anniversary. The fun begins at 701 Whaley at 7 p.m. with Singin' in the Rain -- a performance by Ann Brodie's Carolina Ballet -- and continues with a sale of themed art work. The evening finale is a dance party featuring the Finesse Band. Tickets are $75 and are available online.
April Showers will also celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project, launched in 1987 by the Arts Commission in partnership with the S.C. Department of Education and Winthrop University. Sixty-seven ABC sites have transformed umbrellas into works of art that will be suspended from the ceiling during the party. After the party, the umbrellas will travel in an exhibition to ABC sites and a few other locations around the state.
[caption id="attachment_30399" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Left to right: McDonald Green Elementary, Lancaster; S.C. School for the Deaf and the Blind, Spartanburg; Inman Intermediate, Inman; Kelly Miller Elementary, Winnsboro[/caption]
Find more information about April Showers and the Arts Commission's 50th Anniversary online.
Artists taking part in the invitational art sale (as of March 21): Angel Allen, Kent Ambler, Kristy Bishop, Connie Brennan, Patti Brady, Louis Bruce, Lou Chandler, Jocelyn Chateauvert, Jeff Donovan, Linda Fantuzzo, Diana Farfan, Jo Ann Graham, Mana Hewitt, Ellen Kochansky, Flavia Lovatelli, Kathy Moore, Marcelo Novo, Tabitha Ott, Rob Shaw, Virginia Watson, and Lynette Youson.
Images: First row, left to right: works by Linda Fantuzzo, Rob Shaw, Linda Fantuzzo. Second row, l to r: Kent Ambler, Jeff Donovan, Marcelo Novo.
April Showers Art Party – it’s raining umbrellas!
The April Showers Art Party is the kick-off event for the South Carolina Arts Commission's 50th Anniversary.
Join the South Carolina Arts Foundation and the South Carolina Arts Commission April 5 to kick off the Arts Commission's 50th Anniversary! For half a century, the Arts Commission has served as an umbrella for arts development in the Palmetto State. The April Showers Art Party will carry out the umbrella theme via works of art by professionals and umbrellas embellished by students and installed in the ceiling. These decorative umbrellas will represent the 67 sites of the Arts in Basic Curriculum Project, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
April Showers will include a "Singin' in the Rain" performance by Ann Brodie's Carolina Ballet, an invitational art sale and a dance party featuring the Finesse Band.
Tickets are $75 and can be purchased online.
April Showers Art Party
Wednesday, April 5
Grand Hall at 701 Whaley, Columbia, S.C.
7 p.m. - Singin'in the Rain Opening Performance, Ann Brodie's Carolina Ballet
7:30 - 9 p.m. - Invitational Art Sale
8:30 - 10:30 p.m. - Dance Party featuring the Finesse Band
Find a list of participating artists and sponsors online.
About the 50th Anniversary
On June 7, 1967, Governor Robert E. McNair signed legislation creating the South Carolina Arts Commission, beginning a new era of public support for the arts in the Palmetto State. The legislation declared that the State of South Carolina would ensure that the arts “continue to grow and play an ever more significant part in the welfare and educational experiences of our citizens.” For 50 years, the Arts Commission has joined with individuals, institutions and professional organizations to advance the state’s commitment to create a thriving arts environment that benefits all citizens. From April 2017 through June 2018, the Arts Commission is celebrating 50 years of public support for the arts with kick-off events in Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville and exhibitions and performances showcasing the arts around the state. Check out the calendar of events and stay tuned for updates!