Midlands residents invited to take part in performance art event
Midlands residents are invited to be a part of a new art performance event to be created for the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Burning of Columbia. Created and facilitated by South Carolina artist Candice Ivy, Crossings will be held on Columbia’s Main Street on the evening of Tues., Feb. 17, closing the official commemoration ceremony for the 150th anniversary of the Burning of Columbia.
The mission of the performance is to express the collective voice of participants through action and sound, symbolically recalling our inter-connected past with our present experience of local history. During the performance, participants will collaborate with the artist to work symbolically with sound, cloth, water and ash sourced from the remains of two historic homes. The goal will be to collectively create and hold a respectful space that reflects an acknowledgement of history's continual presence within people, place and culture.
Anyone, regardless of background, who would like to share their personal story may volunteer to participate. This performance is largely dependent upon the collective and diverse voices of the community to be successful. Narratives can be open in content, but should speak to each individual’s personal experience related to the traces of the Civil War in the South, not excluding stories connected to the range of complexities, sensitivities and divides connected to this shared history.
In preparation for the event, volunteers are invited to participate in several activities as a means to share their stories and connect with the artist and each other. In part one of these preparatory meetings, participants are asked to bring any small object that connects them to their story. This performance pays reverential acknowledgement to our collective experiences. All potential participants are asked to bring their stories with openness and respect.
Meetings will take place at The Big Apple, located at 1000 Hampton Street in downtown Columbia, S.C., and will be held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 9, 11, 13 and 16. Participants are required to attend both the first and last meetings as well as the performance on the evening of Feb. 17. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To sign up, visit BurningofColumbia.com.
About Columbia Commemorates:
Columbia Commemorates is a multi-disciplinary coalition comprised of Midlands and statewide organizations formed to plan and implement a citywide commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Burning of Columbia. Through lectures; tours; film; visual, literary and performing arts; exhibits; public discussion; and large public gatherings, Columbia Commemorates will explore the events of February 17, 1865, as well as the immediate and long-term ramifications of the burning of South Carolina’s capital city. This commemoration is made possible by The Humanities CouncilSC, South Carolina Arts Commission and Chernoff Newman. For more information about the commemoration and a calendar of events, please visit BurningofColumbia.com and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
The arts are key components in Burning of Columbia commemoration
Although often overshadowed in the popular imagination by the burning of Atlanta, Ga., the burning of Columbia, S.C. on the evening of February 17, 1865, was a major event in American history and a defining moment in the history of the state, city and the Civil War. Through a multi-disciplinary coalition of organizations and agencies, Columbia is launching a two-month-long initiative to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the burning through lectures, tours, films, exhibits, literature, public discussions and visual and performing arts.
“Sherman’s march through South Carolina, which culminated with the burning of Columbia on February 17, 1865, was the most traumatic event in the history of much of the state, and for 150 years it has shaped how South Carolinians viewed the past and their place in it,” said Eric Emerson, director of the South Carolina Department of Archives & History. “This commemoration provides us with an opportunity to look at history through a different lens and to seek out the voices of those whose stories have been left untold for one and a half centuries.”
“This commemoration is an opportunity for all of us not only to mark this important moment in our history but also to take stock in how far we’ve come as a city and as a people,” said Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin. “Columbia has literally risen from ashes over the past 150 years to become a model progressive city of the new South, and we want everyone to come out and help us celebrate.”
Columbia, the site of the original Secession Convention and capital of the first seceding state, was seen by the Union army as a special political target to encourage the surrender of the remaining Confederate forces. Columbia surrendered to the Union Army under the command of General William Tecumseh Sherman on February 17, 1865, and while the soldiers’ arrival signaled the imminent emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the city, the city suffered widespread destruction. The legacy of this physical loss is a pillar of the city’s common folklore and memories of the Civil War, and it remains hotly debated today.
With funding from the South Carolina Arts Commission and The Humanities CouncilSC, commemoration organizers are receiving direction from a group of historians representing the South Carolina Department of Archives & History, South Carolina African American Heritage Foundation, University of South Carolina, Richland Library, Historic Columbia, South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum, and the South Carolina State Museum.
"This commemoration presents a special opportunity for Columbia's cultural organizations to collaborate and create a wide-ranging, diverse series of events that explore our City's identity," said One Columbia for Arts & History Executive Director Lee Snelgrove. "It's wonderful that academics and artists, historians and visionaries have come together to explore the complexity of Columbia and its past through artistic expression."
Tuesday, February 17, 2015—the 150th anniversary of the burning of Columbia—will offer a full day of events. The University of South Carolina’s History Center, Institute for Southern Studies and Graduate School will present a symposium from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Columbia Museum of Art featuring prominent scholars who will shed fresh light on the meaning of the events 150 years ago. The symposium will also include a presentation on foodways of the 1860s, accompanied by a period-appropriate meal. At 4 p.m. that day, the S.C. Department of Archives & History will unveil an historical marker to commemorate the burning at the corner of Main and Gervais streets, and at 5 p.m., the official commemoration ceremony will begin in Boyd Plaza on the 1500 block of Main Street.
The ceremony will feature music from the Benedict College Concert Choir and the Sandlapper Singers, presentations by community leaders and historians, and the world premieres of two performance art pieces created for this commemoration. Following the ceremony, attendees are encouraged to explore exhibits, performances, tours, music, readings and more at venues along Columbia’s Main Street. More details about all commemoration events, as well as an overview of the history and significance of Columbia’s burning, are available on a new website, BurningofColumbia.com.
“We hope to encourage open dialogue with this project,” said Historic Columbia Executive Director Robin Waites. “The legacy of the burning is one of rebirth and reinvention. By reflecting on it, we can see how far we’ve come as a city and recognize how far we have still to go.”
About Columbia Commemorates:
Columbia Commemorates is a multi-disciplinary coalition comprised of Midlands and statewide organizations formed to plan and implement a citywide commemoration of this pivotal event. Through lectures; tours; film; visual, literary and performing arts; exhibits; public discussion; and large public gatherings, Columbia Commemorates will explore the events of February 17, 1865, as well as the immediate and long-term ramifications of the burning of South Carolina’s capital city. For more information about the commemoration and a calendar of events, please visit BurningofColumbia.com and follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @BurningofCola.
Image: Photographer George N. Barnard captured the desolation of Columbia, South Carolina’s Richardson (Main) Street shortly after the city’s burning in February 1865. Image courtesy National Archives and Records Administration.