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Jason Rapp

Bluffton High senior awarded SOBA scholarship

Naomi McCracken Scholarship goes to Venezuelan-born student

[caption id="attachment_47310" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Multimedia artist Nathalia Roca poses with some of her artwork. Photo courtesy of SOBA.[/caption]

Bluffton High School Senior Nathalia Roca received The Society of Bluffton Artists’ (SOBA) Naomi McCracken Scholarship for students pursuing art in higher education.

Roca, who graduates this month, was accepted to all four of her top college choices. She ultimately settled on attending Columbia College in Chicago as a fine arts major, because of the school’s focus on technology and business courses for artist entrepreneurs. Roca was chosen for the Naomi McCracken Scholarship with the help and collaboration of Andrea Pejeau, fine arts department chair at Bluffton High School. The scholarship applicants must write a personal statement on why they feel they deserve the scholarship and are then interviewed by the SoBA scholarship committee. “Art is my calling, my constant companion, and most importantly, my dominant form of communication,” Roca wrote in her artist’s statement. Roca was born in Venezuela and credits communicating freely in both English and Spanish for enabling her to express her point of view through art. As an artist, Roca says that she does not limit herself to a single medium. She has experience with acrylic, oil, watercolor, pen and ink, pastel, oil pastel, charcoal and scratchboard. “Drawing and painting are my freedom of expression, where no one but me dictates what I do or say,” says Roca.
In their letters of recommendation, Pejeau and Kristen Munroe, a Bluffton High School painting, ceramics and design instructor, describe Roca as a hard-working dedicated student who has already exhibited and sold her work. Roca’s artwork was chosen for a 2018 SOBA exhibit called “Artists In the Making,” where two of her pieces were sold. She has repeatedly won top honors in such youth art events as Promising Picassos and the Scholastic Art Contest. “In all her work, Nathalia shows patience and dedication to meeting the standards she has in mind,” Munroe wrote in her letter of recommendation, adding, “Not only did she have exceptional skills in observation, rendering, value and color; she constant asked for and excelled in more challenging assignments, absorbing every technique and process eagerly, and dedicating hours outside the classroom to practice and investigation.” Pejeau wrote: “Nathalia has the experience of a much older artist. She conceptualizes and executes original work in a wide range of media which she approaches with authority. This young artist is just that. An artist. The rare breed born to create outstanding, already award-winning art with an authentic voice. Never cliche, always interesting.

The Naomi McCracken Scholarship

Naomi McCracken was one of the founding members of SOBA. When Naomi passed away in 2006 her family requested that in lieu of flowers donations should be made to SoBA. In the spring of 2007, her son, Emmitt McCracken, and Dave Dickson, then president of SoBA, established the scholarship program for a graduating senior who planned to further their studies in the field of art.

About the Society of Bluffton Artists

SOBA is the heart of the flourishing art hub in Old Town Bluffton’s historic district at the corner of Church and Calhoun streets. As a non-profit art organization, SOBA offers regular art classes, featured artist shows, exhibitions, scholarships, outreach programs and more. The gallery is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sundays. Please visit www.sobagallery.com for a complete calendar of events and other information or call 843.757.6586.

Jason Rapp

Deadline nears for SOBA 27th Annual Judged Show

Submission deadline: Friday, June 25, 2021, 11 a.m. ET


Lowcountry artists are invited to submit their works of art for The Society of Bluffton Artists’ (SOBA) 27th Annual Judged Show.

(Ed. note: This is an updated version of this previous post. New deadline; same call.) Winners will be awarded first, second and third place cash awards in the following categories:
  • acrylic,
  • mixed media,
  • oil,
  • pastel,
  • photography,
  • watercolor,
  • or 3D.
Registration is required by completing a registration form available at the gallery, located at 6 Church St. in Old Town Bluffton, or by registering online at http://bit.ly/27thjudgedshow. The cost to register is $25 for SOBA members and $45 for non SOBA members. The deadline for dropping off your art is from 9-11 a.m. June 25 at the Center for Creative Arts, located next door to the SOBA gallery at 8 Church Street. No entries will be accepted after 11 a.m. Click here to read the registration and a full list of rules. The Judged Show exhibit will be on display from July 5 to Aug. 1 at the SOBA gallery. An awards ceremony will take place from 5-7 p.m. July 7. These events are free to attend and open to the public. The judge for the show is David Rankin. Rankin’s award-winning watercolors are in public and private art collections in the U.S., India, and China, have been featured in more than 150 museum exhibitions, and are included in the North Light’s series, Splash: The Best of Watercolor, and Strokes of Genius: The Best of Drawing, and in numerous art magazines. Rankin is offering a “Watercolor Dazzle” demonstration at 2 p.m. July 3 at the Center for Creative Arts. The demo is free for SOBA members and $10 for non-members. Immediate and advanced painters also might like to take advantage of Rankin’s transparent watercolor workshop called “Painting Lowcountry” from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 6-8 at the Center for Creative Arts. To register for the class, go to sobagallery.com.

About the Judge

David Rankin promotes conservation and appreciation of the natural world through his paintings and has worked with organizations such as the International Crane Foundation, the Wild Bird Society of Japan, the Corporate Conservation Council-Japan and the Smithsonian Institution. He is a Signature Member of the Ohio Watercolor Society, Artists for Conservation, and the Society of Animal Artists where he has served on the board since 1990. David is one of the true modern-day masters of transparent watercolors, exuding a dynamic passion for the medium in his lectures, demonstrations, and workshop instruction. His art reflects his profound passion for both watercolor and nature. He is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art and lives in Cleveland with his wife, Deanna.

About The Society of Bluffton Artists

SoBA is the heart of the flourishing art hub in Old Town Bluffton’s historic district at the corner of Church and Calhoun streets. As a non-profit art organization, SoBA offers regular art classes, featured artist shows, exhibitions, scholarships, outreach programs and more. Please visit www.sobagallery.com for a complete calendar of events and other information or call 843.757.3776.

Jason Rapp

Deadline extended for Penn Center artist residency

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Tuesday, June 1, 2021 at 5 p.m. ET

Beaufort County's Penn Center, one of the nation’s most important institutions of African American culture and history, invites submissions for an artist residency program.

Offered in partnership with the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts at the University of Georgia, and made possible by the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The deadline to apply for this residency is now June 1. Applications can be made by individual artists, or by a collective in a single submission. Proposals can be in any media (visual/ sonic/ literary/ performance), but must relate to the histories and cultures of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor in contexts of the theme, "Civil Rights and Social Justice." The residency will be held from Sept. 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022, subject to pandemic safety protocols. To be selected, projects must engage with, or partner with, one or more of the Sea Island communities. Projects may also build from material or archival holdings in Penn Center, or other relevant museums, archives, or collections. Outcomes—readings, exhibitions, performances or installations—will be mounted at Penn Center, or another suitable site, which may be in coordination with the annual Penn Center Heritage Festival.

Application

For consideration, please submit:
  • An artist statement of up to 750 words describing your proposed project, its relationship with the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, its relevance to the theme, "Civil Rights and Social Justice," and a description of the outcome of your proposed residency
  • A personal statement of up to 500 words explaining your interest in this program
  • A digital resume, portfolio, or website
  • A draft budget, including materials, and travel costs
These materials should be submitted to Winnie Smith at wsmith78@uga.edu by 5 p.m. EDT, Tuesday, June 1.

Artist Residency Details

Each year the artist residency offers:
  • An honorarium of up to $10,000
  • Materials and exhibition support of up to $15,000
  • Travel, accommodation, and subsistence support of up to $5,000
These costs may be shared among a group of artists if a collective application is chosen. It is a condition of the residency that successful applicants will collaborate directly with Penn Center on project planning and orientation before their residency begins. It is further expected that successful applicants will continue to build close relationships with Penn Center, and the communities with which it connects along the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor, during and after the residency. The selection process for the artist residency will be informed by the steering committee and advisory board of Culture and Community at the Penn Center National Historic Landmark District.

Schedule

Each project must take place within one year of the award, and the outcome of each project must be open to public access through Penn Center on its completion. Each residency can last up to one month total in duration, which does not need to be consecutive so long as the project is completed within the project year. The duration of each residency will depend on the nature of the project, and we are happy to discuss flexibility in relation to other responsibilities, subject again to pandemic safety protocols.

About the Artist Residency

These artist residencies are offered as part of Culture and Community at the Penn Center National Historic Landmark District, which is a collaboration between Penn Center and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, at the University of Georgia. Culture and Community at the Penn Center National Historic Landmark District is funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

About Penn Center

Penn Center is one of the most significant African American historical and cultural institutions in existence today. It is located on St. Helena Island, one of the most beautiful and historically distinct of the South Carolina Sea Islands, and at the heart of Gullah Geechee culture. Founded in 1862 on 50 acres of land by the formerly enslaved farmer and Reconstruction-era legislator Hastings Gantt, Penn Center’s uninterrupted history as a vibrant center of African American education, economic empowerment, self-determination, and grass-roots activism spans from the Civil War and Reconstruction, through the 20-century Civil Rights Movement, to the present day. The Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor runs from the coast of North Carolina to the coast of Florida.

Questions?

Please contact Winnie Smith at wsmith78@uga.edu if you have questions about this program.

Submitted material

New Gullah Art Gallery opens in Beaufort

City welcomes only solo Black female Gullah art gallery

The ribbon's been cut at Legacy Art Gallery, LLC in Beaufort.

Owner and artist Lisa Rivers is on location painting and creating beautiful artwork. On this International Women's Day, The Hub notes that hers is the only solo Black female Gullah art gallery in Beaufort. Rivers says each piece is full of love and vivid colors. Find Legacy Art Gallery in Old Bay Marketplace, 917 Bay St., Suite C.

Milly

2021 Biennale makes call for artists

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: Friday, March 19, 2021


Art League of Hilton Head invites artists to enter the 2021 Biennale, its 27th National Juried Exhibition, held every other year across multiple media types.

Categories include:
  • Oil
  • Acrylic
  • Pastel
  • Watermedia
  • Photography
  • Mixed Media
  • Three-Dimensional
  • and All Other
Over $5000 in cash prizes will be awarded. The deadline to enter is March 19, 2021. For further information and to enter, go to http://bit.ly/Biennale2021 All accepted works of art selected by three jurors will be on display at Art League Gallery in the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina on Hilton Head Island. This state of the art gallery provides the finest exhibit space with high tourist and community visibility. Prize winners will be chosen by 2021 Biennale judge Marc Hanson. Nationally known, award-winning artist Marc Hanson is a Master Signature Member of the Oil Painters of America (O.P.A.M.), having won numerous awards of excellence throughout his career. He has been published and featured in national art publications including on the covers of Plein Air and Southwest Art Magazine, and in the book 'Oil Painting Secrets With The Masters,' by Cindy Salaski. His work has been shown in museums and galleries throughout the United States and abroad. The 2021 Biennale exhibition will be free and open to the public from May 4-26, 2021. An opening reception and awards ceremony will take place on Friday, May 7, from 5-7 p.m.

Correction

The initial version of this post listed an incorrect start date for the Biennale.

About Art League of Hilton Head

Art League of Hilton Head is the only 501 (c) (3) nonprofit visual arts organization on Hilton Head Island with a synergistic Art Gallery and teaching Academy. For almost 50 years, Art League has been the Lowcountry's creative core for the visual arts with traditional and cutting-edge exhibitions, classes, workshops, lectures and special community art events. To learn more and for a calendar of events, visit http://bit.ly/ArtLeagueHHI.

Jason Rapp

SCAC commitments to DEI, rural aided by grant from Coastal Community Foundation of S.C.

$14,339 grant expands agency work in Lowcountry


For Immediate Release

COLUMBIA, S.C. – A grant awarded to the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) by Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina (CCF) supported commitments to expanding diversity, equity, and inclusion and reaching rural communities.

Visit the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina's website at https://coastalcommunityfoundation.org/That perfectly complements the SCAC’s new strategic plan, released in late 2020, which calls for it to “promote equitable access to the arts” through a renewed focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion. Additionally, the agency has a commitment to expanding arts opportunities in rural communities through such initiatives as its nationally recognized program The Art of Community: Rural SC. Extenuating circumstances in FY19 led to $500 from that year’s Expansion Arts Fund award being held over to FY20, bringing that year’s funding to $14,839. This is how the funds were distributed by the SCAC:
  • Aldwyth, an individual artist in Beaufort County, was granted $2,500 to support the creation of works for Pictures of Nothing or Mr. Varnedoe, Why Abstraction?, a multi-disciplinary exhibition focused on Kirk Varnedoe’s book, Pictures of Nothing: Abstract Art Since Pollock. Pandemic restrictions continue to postpone the public display of the works created by Aldwyth and an assistant.
  • Fletcher Williams, an individual artist in Charleston County, was granted $2,500. He worked with a local fabricator and a team of assistants to create the mobile walls for his Picket Fence – Promiseland Consisting of sculpture and large-scale paper art, the installation encouraged visitors to imagine and observe the Aiken-Rhett House as possibly seen through different eyes, times, and sets of experiences. Though delayed, the project opened and was used as a tool to address current events, serving both artistic and social-awareness goals while engaging new patrons who may have previously been unaware of or disinterested in the arts.
  • Marlanda Dekine, an individual artist in Georgetown County, received $2,500 for research related to the experiences of the artist as a Gullah-Geechee descendant living in South Carolina “with a rootedness in Africana & Caribbean being and creolization.” Written and recorded interviews, community engagement, and tours of local museums and plantations assisted in the completion of written-word poetry. The culmination of this work is to be a serial poem offered through spoken word as a site-specific soundscape, or aural architecture, as well as in live performances for the community, with discourse and audience interaction as part of the final product. In this context, Dekine acts as a conduit and witness of present, past, and future.
  • Community arts organization Colleton Museum, Farmers Market and Commercial Kitchen in Colleton County received $7,339 from the Expansion Arts Fund to support the development of WHAM!, Walterboro History, Art, & Music, a new public festival. They’ve used an indefinite delay to reexamine how they implement content for the rural community they serve. By reconceptualizing the initial project, they’ve seen increased interest from artists representing a broader segment of the community and now have a more flexible framework that can be used and reused at any time.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) is to promote equitable access to the arts and support the cultivation of creativity in South Carolina. We envision a South Carolina where the arts are valued and all people benefit from a variety of creative experiences. A state agency created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the SCAC works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas: arts education, community arts development, and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the SCAC is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts, and other sources. Visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696, and follow @scartscomm on social media.

Jason Rapp

SOBA issues judged show call for artists

Submission deadline: Monday, March 1, 2021, 11 a.m. ET


Please see an update to this post with an extended deadline and new event dates here.

Lowcountry artists are invited to submit their works of art for The Society of Bluffton Artists’ (SOBA) 27th Annual Judged Show.

Winners will be awarded first, second and third place cash awards in the following categories:
  • acrylic,
  • mixed media,
  • oil,
  • pastel,
  • photography,
  • watercolor,
  • or 3D.
Registration is required by completing a registration form available at the gallery, located at 6 Church St. in Old Town Bluffton, or by registering online at http://bit.ly/27thjudgedshow. The cost to register is $25 for SOBA members and $45 for non SOBA members. The deadline for dropping off your art is from 9-11 a.m. March 1 at the Center for Creative Arts, located next door to the SOBA gallery at 8 Church Street. No entries will be accepted after 11 a.m. Click here to read the registration and a full list of rules. The Judged Show exhibit will be on display from March 1-April 5 at the SOBA gallery. An awards ceremony will take place from 5-7 p.m. March 3. These events are free to attend and open to the public.  Artists can pick up unsold artwork at the end of the show from 9-11 a.m. April 5 at the SOBA gallery. The judge for the show is David Rankin. Rankin’s award-winning watercolors are in public and private art collections in the U.S., India, and China, have been featured in more than 150 museum exhibitions, and are included in the North Light’s series, Splash: The Best of Watercolor, and Strokes of Genius: The Best of Drawing, and in numerous art magazines.

About the Judge

David Rankin promotes conservation and appreciation of the natural world through his paintings and has worked with organizations such as the International Crane Foundation, the Wild Bird Society of Japan, the Corporate Conservation Council-Japan and the Smithsonian Institution. He is a Signature Member of the Ohio Watercolor Society, Artists for Conservation, and the Society of Animal Artists where he has served on the board since 1990. David is one of the true modern-day masters of transparent watercolors, exuding a dynamic passion for the medium in his lectures, demonstrations, and workshop instruction. His art reflects his profound passion for both watercolor and nature. He is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art and lives in Cleveland with his wife, Deanna.

About The Society of Bluffton Artists

SoBA is the heart of the flourishing art hub in Old Town Bluffton’s historic district at the corner of Church and Calhoun streets. As a non-profit art organization, SoBA offers regular art classes, featured artist shows, exhibitions, scholarships, outreach programs and more. Please visit www.sobagallery.com for a complete calendar of events and other information or call 843.757.3776.

Jason Rapp

SOBA calls for Lowcountry artists

Submit now for 27th annual juried show

Submission deadline: Monday, March 1, 2021 at 11 a.m. ET

Lowcountry artists are invited to submit their works of art for The Society of Bluffton Artists’ (SOBA) 27th Annual Judged Show.

Winners will be awarded first, second and third place cash awards in the following categories:
  • acrylic,
  • mixed media,
  • oil,
  • pastel,
  • photography,
  • watercolor,
  • or 3D.
Registration is required by completing a registration form available at the gallery, located at 6 Church St. in Old Town Bluffton or by registering online at http://bit.ly/27thjudgedshow. The cost to register is $25 for SOBA members and $45 for non SOBA members. The deadline for dropping off your art is from 9-11 a.m. March 1 at the Center for Creative Arts, located next door to the SOBA gallery at 8 Church Street. No entries will be accepted after 11 a.m. Registration and a full list of rules are available online. The Judged Show exhibit will be on display from March 1-April 5, 2021 at the SOBA gallery. An awards ceremony will take place from 5-7 p.m. March 3. These events are free to attend and open to the public. Artists can pick up unsold artwork at the end of the show from 9-11 a.m. April 5 at the SOBA gallery. The judge for the show is David Rankin. Rankin’s award-winning watercolors are in public and private art collections in the U.S., India, and China, have been featured in more than 150 museum exhibitions, and are included in the North Light’s series, Splash: The Best of Watercolor, and Strokes of Genius: The Best of Drawing, and in numerous art magazines.
About the Judge David Rankin promotes conservation and appreciation of the natural world through his paintings and has worked with organizations such as the International Crane Foundation, the Wild Bird Society of Japan, the Corporate Conservation Council-Japan and the Smithsonian Institution. He is a signature member of the Ohio Watercolor Society, Artists for Conservation, and the Society of Animal Artists where he has served on the board since 1990. David is one of the true modern-day masters of transparent watercolors, exuding a dynamic passion for the medium in his lectures, demonstrations, and workshop instruction. His art reflects his profound passion for both watercolor and nature. He is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art and lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife, Deanna.
About The Society of Bluffton Artists SoBA is the heart of the flourishing art hub in Old Town Bluffton’s historic district at the corner of Church and Calhoun streets. As a non-profit art organization, SoBA offers regular art classes, featured artist shows, exhibitions, scholarships, outreach programs and more. Please visit www.sobagallery.com for a complete calendar of events and other information or call 843.757.3776.
 

Susan DuPlessis

Rural arts and culture initiative expands to 15 counties

Addressing local issues with S.C. Arts Commission program

[caption id="attachment_45057" align="aligncenter" width="600"] Mavens join heads and hands to celebrate their local communities and discuss shared challenges in a January meeting in Eastover, South Carolina, hosted by Michael Dantzler. Shown l to r, mavens and their corresponding counties: Brooke Bauer, Catawba Indian Nation/York; Marquerite Palmer, Newberry; Lottie Lewis, Allendale; Betty McDaniel, Pickens; Victoria Smalls, Beaufort; Evelyn Coker, Barnwell; Audrey Hopkins-Williams, Hampton; Libby Sweatt-Lambert, Chester; Luis Rodriguez (seated), Marion; Johnny Davis, Jasper; Michael Dantzler, Richland; and Matt Mardell, Colleton. Photo credit: Sherard Duvall, OTR Media.[/caption]
For Immediate Release

Across South Carolina, an initiative called The Art of Community: Rural SC has taken root, creating new networks, community engagement, partnerships and energy to change minds and build communities together.

The initiative, a program of the South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC), poses a central question: “How can we use arts and culture as strategic tools to address local challenges we face?” “It’s growing, and it’s always a learning opportunity,” said Matt Mardell, executive director of the Colleton Museum, Farmers Market and Commercial Kitchen in Walterboro, South Carolina. Mardell is one of the ‘mavens’ for The Art of Community; Rural SC. He said that, as part of this network of rural leaders and their teams, he is “hearing others’ creative solutions to issues we all face.” He and his predecessor, Gary Brightwell, have participated in the initiative with five other mavens from throughout a six-county Lowcountry region since it was conceived in 2015 and launched in 2016. Mavens in other counties include: Lottie Lewis of Allendale; Dr. Yvette McDaniel representing Bamberg; Evelyn Coker of Barnwell; Audrey Hopkins-Williams of Hampton; and Johnny Davis representing Jasper County. The growth Mardell references is an expansion of the initiative in 2019 that includes a broader swath of rural South Carolina. Nine additional mavens represent their communities from the mountains to the sea and myriad cultures in between. They include the following community leaders and their corresponding counties: Kayla Hyatt-Hostetler of Aiken; Victoria Smalls of Beaufort; Lydia Cotton of Berkeley; Libby Sweatt-Lambert representing Chester; Luis Rodriguez representing Marion; Marquerite Palmer of Newberry; Betty McDaniel of Pickens; Michael Dantzler of Richland; and Dr. Brooke Bauer with co-maven Laney Buckley of The Catawba Indian Nation in York County. How does the initiative work? “It’s a framework built with four critical components:  mavens, local teams, partners and advisors coupled with a state arts agency willing to invest in rural and tribal communities in a new way,” said Community Arts Development Director Susan DuPlessis of the arts commission. All 15 teams, created and led by the mavens, gather locally and as a statewide network to get to know each other better, to listen, and to consider their local assets and challenges—ultimately, to learn together. "Mavens are 'the bridges' who make this initiative work," DuPlessis said. "Knowing that I have a community beyond my community has bolstered me in my local work," said maven Lottie Lewis of Allendale. As part of this initiative, Lewis led members of her local team on a fact-finding field trip to Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, in 2019. They went to explore how another small, rural town had spurred connection and growth using arts and culture. They then planned to integrate some of that learning into their local project. “We learned so much from our new friends in Tamaqua,” Lewis said. “We were inspired by how they engaged their local community to share their ideas about where they live.” Allendale’s local project plan, though, along with the plans of the other 14 sites in this initiative, took an unexpected turn beginning in the spring of 2020. “We all had to shift in how we were engaging with one another and ask what our roles are in this moment of quarantine and separation,” according to DuPlessis who said many of the participating teams shifted their focuses to react to the circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic and mounting social justice issues. Since March 20, the arts commission has convened mavens in weekly meetings to continue the practice of sharing, listening and learning together. "That's what's been so important to me and other mavens who I now count as dear friends," Lewis said. She also notes the spirit of the initiative which, built on trust and relationships, has allowed for flexibility with grant-funded local projects in this “uncertain time.” Each of The Art of Community: Rural SC teams received a $7,500 grant award in FY20 to engage and build community in ways that use arts and culture strategically. “Project plans in January 2020 didn’t look the same three months later in March,” DuPlessis said. Some communities planning festivals and other gatherings have had to postpone those for now. In a number of cases, mavens and their teams retrofitted their projects to respond to the current context and include the following examples:
  • In Aiken, in addition to getting helpful information out about the pandemic, the local project also incorporated the NextGen fight for equality, justice and respect for all people through the creation of a ‘peaceful protest’ linking them with other students around the country;
  • In Allendale, the local project’s focus became community engagement through a celebration of frontline pandemic workers as ‘hometown heroes;’
  • In Bamberg County, the local team developed a 'Little People's Learning Page' to accompany the local newspaper and address learning in a fun, creative way for students who are isolated from one another;
  • In Barnwell County, the Town of Blackville team developed a new dance called ‘The Wagon Wheel’ to engage its residents on social media in a healthy activity during a time of isolation;
  • In Beaufort County, a collective of Gullah Geechee artists used their voices and talents for public service announcements that address safety protocols for the pandemic;
  • In Berkeley County, a Spanish-language video was created to remind its community of best practices for reducing infection rates; and
  • In Chester County, the town of Fort Lawn team partnered with local businesses and state parks to showcase artists' and entrepreneurs' work to help generate income during this time of economic distress.
[caption id="attachment_45056" align="aligncenter" width="600"] The Allendale Rural Arts Team, led by maven Lottie Lewis,  celebrated its Hometown Heroes June 19 with recognition of front line workers in the face of COVID 19; and the unveiling of a community mural by Hampton County artist Sophie Docalavich. Photo credit: Xavier Blake.[/caption] Other participating communities in the initiative bolstered their local project planning by addressing infrastructure and equipment needs as they anticipate future community gatherings, festivals and local engagement as part of their community building strategies. For instance, in Walterboro where the WHAM Festival, originally set for March 27-29, was cancelled, Matt Mardell re-examined the needs for this inaugural event by purchasing displays for exhibits and creating a website for the festival--WHAMfestival.org. The festival is now tentatively set for Oct. 23-25, 2020. Set within the framework of “arts plus economic development,” Mardell said, “I know when the festival does happen, we will be ready and even better prepared for it.” In addition to implementing local projects, all participants are invited to join additional activities and programs to build their own toolkits for considering the importance of ‘place’ in South Carolina and in their personal lives. They include a community writing workshop series; a field school offering instruction in documentary skills; and asset mapping workshops. These offerings are all coordinated by the arts commission’s Folklife & Traditional Arts Program. In addition to these activities, a rural networking program called CREATE: Rural SC engages rural creative professionals who serve as conduits between the mavens, the local creative economies and the arts commission. "These new networks and learning opportunities are bridging gaps and connecting us in ways we need to be connected in rural communities and across the state," Hampton County Maven Audrey Hopkins-Williams of Estill said. All 15 communities, along with the arts commission, partners and advisors constitute a ‘learning community’ that spans the state and the nation. Its story has been shared in national and state conferences from South Carolina to Iowa and Colorado; and from Detroit to Washington, D.C. using the voices and stories of mavens, advisors and emerging creative leaders. Also, with more than 25 partners in its national Advisory Council, this learning community has access to a wide range of sectors, insights, geographies and resources for community building using arts and culture. Co-chairs for the advisory council are Pam Breaux, president and CEO for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), headquartered in Washington; and Bob Reeder, program director for Rural LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), headquartered in New York City. Looking at the value of community engagement in rural America, Co-Chair Pam Breaux cites The Art of Community: Rural SC as an exemplar for state arts agencies across the country. "This work has become a leading example of ingenuity in funding, partnership and framework creation for state arts agencies across the country," she said. Art of Community: Rural SC Director Susan DuPlessis was invited to share the initiative at a National Press Club briefing in Washington in January 2018; Mardell of Colleton County joined her as the local voice and example of growth and development through arts and culture as demonstrated through the Colleton Museum, Farmers Market and Commercial Kitchen. More than 25,000 'views' resulted on social media from that presentation. The South Carolina initiative was also included within a rural action guide on developing prosperity, produced by the National Governors Association, the National Endowment for the Arts and NASAA. “This initiative is about re-imagining 'place' in terms of assets, not deficits,” said Co-Chair Bob Reeder whose professional work in the field of community development crosses the nation. “We're building on the strengths of local communities and the power of a network that connects to state and national resources,” he said. “Ultimately, this work is about changing minds.” Concurring with Reeder, Advisor Dixie Goswami of Clemson, South Carolina noted that the initiative makes visible local people, including young people, as "assets with wisdom and knowledge, not as deficient and needing outside help." Goswami is director of the Write to Change Foundation and director emerita of Middlebury Bread Loaf NextGen Network. "We're a state rich in creativity and ingenuity—and this initiative showcases some of that in our smallest communities" said SCAC Executive Director David Platts. "We are grateful to USDA-Rural Development for first believing in and funding this initiative in 2015. We've built a case for creative placemaking—the strategic use of arts and culture to address community issues—and this platform is being showcased nationally. The arts commission has also garnered more support for this approach from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation as well as funding from the South Carolina General Assembly. The Art of Community: Rural SC initiative is part of the Community Arts Development program of the arts commission and is one of three program areas that also include artist services and arts education. “Through this program, we continue to strive to meet our mission-‘to develop a thriving arts environment’ for the people and places in our South Carolina,” said Board of Commissioners Chair Dee Crawford of Aiken, South Carolina. “The arts are invaluable to our communities, both big and small. They are tools for growth, development and social cohesion in each and every county in our state.” Crawford also serves on the Advisory Council for Art of Community: Rural SC. The South Carolina Arts Commission is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts and collaborates in its work with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies and South Arts. It received funding from USDA-Rural Development to launch this program in 2015; and additional USDA-RD funding from 2017 to 2019. It also has received support from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation for this initiative since 2018. More information about The Art of Community: Rural SC can be found at https://www.southcarolinaarts.com/community-development/programs/art-of-community-rural-sc/, including a recently produced film called Meet the Mavens and a brochure featuring all mavens representing 14 South Carolina counties and the Catawba Indian Nation in York County.
ABOUT THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARTS COMMISSION With a commitment to excellence across the spectrum of our state’s cultures and forms of expression, the South Carolina Arts Commission pursues its public charge to develop a thriving arts environment, which is essential to quality of life, education, and economic vitality for all South Carolinians. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing grants, direct programs, staff assistance and partnerships in three key areas:
  • arts education,
  • community arts development,
  • and artist development.
Headquartered in Columbia, the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com or call 803.734.8696.

Jason Rapp

Race in America: How art, and a St. Helena champion, open world’s eyes to S.C.’s Gullah Culture

An interview with Mary Inabinett Mack


Mary Inabinett Mack is a newly-minted recipient of the Governor's Award for the Arts and a legend in her coastal community of St. Helena Island.

Late last week, she was the subject of a story chronicling her community impact through the arts (subscription may be required to read) by David Lauderdale of the Hilton Head Island Packet. Mack was, until recently, owner of Red Piano Too Art Gallery. Her influence in Lowcountry art, in particular Gullah-centric art, is what helped her to the state's highest award for the arts. From the story:

She would get a nursing degree in New York City, raise a family there, and move back home for good in 1977. She was deputy director of the Beaufort-Jasper-Hampton Comprehensive Health Services by day, and an art framer by night.

In New York, Mack’s husband took her to an outdoor art display in Greenwich Village, and her walls were never again bare.

“Art fulfills a need,” she said. “It’s like a passion. It lifts my spirit.”

As a student at Penn, Mack sat next to Sam Doyle Jr. They called him “Chubby.”The teacher asked them to bring in something from the community to reflect their lives. Chubby brought one of his daddy’s paintings.We can look back now and see how it changed the course of history.