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2023 S.C. Arts Awards: Emily H. Meggett

Folk Heritage Award: Artist Category

Graphic with white copy on a dark blue background overlaid on granite blocks. The white text reads South Carolina Arts Awards 2023. As the day nears for the 2023 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year's recipients: five receiving the South Carolina Governor's Awards for the Arts from the South Carolina Arts Commission and two receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, managed jointly by the SCAC and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.

With deep appreciation, we remember the light and warmth from a well-lived life.

Official Statement from the South Carolina Arts Commission

As has been reported elsewhere, the sad news from Edisto Island last week was that Emily H. Meggett passed away April 21 at the age of 90. Emily Meggett was indeed a cultural treasure who deserves to be known—and remembered fondly—by all South Carolinians. Her generosity and creative spirit were the embodiment of ideals toward which we should all strive. The South Carolina Arts Commission extends sincere condolences to her family and the Gullah Geechee community for their loss. Though she will be recognized with her Folk Heritage Award posthumously, the South Carolina Arts Awards broadcast will nonetheless pay tribute as we remember her consequential life.

Gullah Geechee chef Emily H. Meggett, known by many as “M.P.,” was born on November 19, 1932 on Edisto Island, the place she called “heaven on earth.”

[caption id="attachment_53185" align="alignright" width="275"] Emily H. Meggett, 1932-2023[/caption] Meggett grew up with her family on her grandparent’s farm, where they grew a wide variety of vegetables and also kept livestock for butchering. Meggett learned to cook traditional Gullah Geechee dishes with the ingredients grown on the farm, standing next to her grandmother, Elizabeth Major Hutchinson, whom she called “mama.” Meggett learned more formal cooking in 1954 when she took a job at a house on Edisto Island owned by the Dodges, a white family from Rockport, Maine, who were in the oil business. Ms. Julia W. Brown, a Gullah woman, was the head chef of their family kitchen, and she was in charge of teaching Meggett how to prepare dishes correctly. Meggett recalled Ms. Julia telling her “You do it right or you do it over,” and true to her word, Ms. Julia would throw anything that wasn’t up to her standards straight into the trash can. Meggett married Edisto native Jessie Meggett, with whom she had 10 children. They built a four-room home on one acre of land where she cooked for everyone in her family, and many more as she remembered, likely more than a hundred children in the area. Meggett woke up around two o’clock in the morning with inspiration of what to cook the next day. She cooked every day for her family, her neighbors, and anyone who might need a meal. When you saw the small door to her kitchen open you know you’ll be fed, no money needed and no questions asked. Meggett’s family and friends encouraged her throughout her life to share her recipes in a cookbook, but the idea perplexed her as she had never used one herself. But eventually her friend Becky Smith convinced her to start the long process. Every day Smith would visit Meggett where they would work on one recipe at a time, figuring out measurements, and documenting the process. In April of 2022, Meggett’s cookbook, Gullah Geechee Home Cooking was published. The book, which was written with the help of food writer Kayla Stewart and oral historian Trelani Michelle, quickly became a New York Times bestseller. Meggett received numerous accolades for her work, including the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from President Joe Biden. Biography written by Amanda Malloy, McKissick Museum
The South Carolina Arts Awards are coming live to SCETV on Sunday, May 14, 2023 at 8 p.m. ET. South Carolina ETV, the state’s public educational broadcasting network, will broadcast the awards ceremony through its 11-station TV network that spans the state. Viewers can access the broadcast via livestream on the homepage of SCETV.org; by using a digital antenna; or through cable, satellite, and streaming live TV providers. Further information about accessing SCETV is available here.

Jason Rapp

Amiri Geuka Farris lands artist residency

Sharing photography and painting at Penn Center

Culture and Community at the Penn Center National Historic Landmark District, a partnership between South Carolina’s Penn Center and the University of Georgia’s Willson Center for Humanities and Arts, has named Amiri Geuka Farris as its 2023 artist in residence.

Through the residency and its theme of “Land and Justice,” Farris will engage with the history and heritage of Penn Center, located on St. Helena Island, and with its surrounding community in the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. Farris is a Bluffton-based interdisciplinary artist whose work has been featured in more than 50 solo exhibitions and juried museum shows nationally and internationally. “For my Culture & Community residency I plan on creating a body of work focused on Gullah Geechee culture, land conservation, nature, and heirs’ property, which I plan to explore through various media including photography and painting,” he said. “By examining these themes, I hope to create meaningful works that can be shared with the community and exhibited in museums and galleries.” Farris was appointed to the residency by a committee including members of cultural and artistic organizations connected to Penn Center and led by Deloris Pringle, chair of Penn Center’s board of trustees. “Amiri Geuka Farris’s experience as a preservationist, educator, musical performer, videographer, and cultural curator places his bold and brilliant art at the intersection of people, place, and time,” said Penn board member Tia Powell Harris, vice president for education and community engagement at New York City Center, who served on the selection committee. “His art is often rooted in the legacy of the Gullah Geechee heritage and his desire to uplift the tenacity of the Gullah people,” Harris said. “We look forward with great anticipation to Amiri’s residency at the historic Penn Center and to the dynamic visual stories that will emerge from his interactions with our supportive staff and board, a welcoming community, and the indomitable spirit of the elders past and present, who have served as stewards of the land.” The Culture and Community project is funded by a $1 million 2021 grant to the Willson Center by the Mellon Foundation. Barbara McCaskill, professor of English and associate academic director of the Willson Center, and Nicholas Allen, Baldwin Professor in Humanities and director of the Willson Center, are the grant’s principal investigators and serve on the project’s steering committee with Pringle, Valerie Babb, Andrew Mellon Professor of Humanities at Emory University, and interim Penn Center executive director Bernie Wright. Angela Dore, the project’s research coordinator, provides day-to-day oversight of the project’s programs. The beginning of Farris’s residency launches the partnership’s second year of public programs, which will include two Penn Center Community Conversations and two cohorts of Student Summer Research Residencies: on-site classes and workshops with students and faculty from colleges and universities across the Southeast. The first of 2023’s public conversations, “Penn Center, Land, and Community,” will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, April 22 in Penn Center’s Frissell Community House. The research residencies, which will take place in May, will include workshops and conversations that Farris will lead with students and other participants.

About the partners

  • Penn Center is a nonprofit organization committed to African American education, community development, and social justice. It also serves as a gathering place for meetings, educational institutions, and planning activities within the Sea Island Gullah Geechee communities. It sits on the historic campus of Penn School, founded in 1862 to provide education to African Americans who until then had been enslaved in the Sea Islands region. Following the school’s closure in 1948, the site served as a sanctuary for civil rights organizers in the 1960s, including Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other members of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
  • The Willson Center promotes research, practice, and creativity in the humanities and arts. It supports faculty, students, and its extended community through research grants, visiting scholars and artists, collaborative instruction, conferences, exhibitions, and performances, with a focus on academic excellence and public impact.

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Gullah Geechee chef and gospel singer to receive 2023 Folk Heritage Awards


COLUMBIA, S.C. – For 2023, the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards will be presented by the General Assembly to honor a Gullah Geechee chef and a gospel singer whose talents keep the state’s traditional art forms alive.

The two practicing artists and are to be recognized as ambassadors of traditions significant to communities throughout the state. Their traditions embody folklife’s dynamic, multigenerational nature and the way it fuses artistic and utilitarian ideals. The Folk Heritage Awards are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and the University of South Carolina McKissick Museum. The 2023 recipients are:
  • Emily Meggett: Artist, Gullah Geechee Chef (Edisto Island)
  • Hampton Rembert: Artist, Gospel Singing (Bishopville)
The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award is named for the late State Rep. Jean Laney Harris of Cheraw, respected as an outspoken advocate and ardent supporter of the arts and cultural resources of the state. In the fall, nominations are sought from citizens across the state to recognize exemplary artistic achievement/advocacy. An independent advisory panel appointed by the lieutenant governor and president of the South Carolina Senate select the recipients, who must be living and practicing in the state. Up to four artists or organizations and one advocate may receive awards each year. As McKissick Museum Executive Director Jane Przybysz notes, "These artists are masters of longstanding South Carolina traditions. The meals that Emily Meggett prepares daily ensure that the culinary know-how of her Gullah Geechee kin gets passed along to and nurtures the next generation. Hampton Rembert’s gospel singing is a point of community pride and inspiration to all who have been touched by a music tradition that uplifts the human spirit, particularly in times of adversity. We thank them for their dedication to keeping alive the traditions that have become our shared South Carolina inheritance." “The recipients of this year’s Folk Heritage Awards embody South Carolina’s rich artistic traditions and our broad diversity as a people and society,” South Carolina Arts Commission Executive Director David Platts said. “Their crafts connect our modern society to, and honor, South Carolina’s cultural past. They remain vibrant parts of rich tapestries that weave together people and communities across the Palmetto State today. We are all grateful for the way these artists enrich the lives of all South Carolinians.” Recipients of the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage and South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts Awards are honored during a broadcast presentation of the South Carolina Arts Awards, expected to air on South Carolina ETV this May at a date and time to be announced later. South Carolina First Lady Peggy McMaster will join Platts and Przybysz to honor award recipients.

About the 2023 Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award Recipients

[caption id="attachment_52743" align="alignright" width="250"] Provided photo.[/caption] Emily Meggett | Edisto Island | Artist, Gullah Geechee Chef Gullah Geechee chef Emily H. Meggett, known by many as “M.P.,” was born in 1932 on Edisto Island, a place she calls “heaven on earth.” Meggett grew up on her grandparents’ farm, where they grew a wide variety of vegetables and kept livestock for butchering. Meggett learned traditional Gullah Geechee dishes standing next to her grandmother using ingredients grown on the farm. She honed her skills in the kitchen of wealthy white family’s Edisto Island house. Miss Julia, the Gullah head chef, had a mantra of “You do it right or you do it over.” Anything that wasn’t up to Ms. Julia’s standards went straight to the trash. Meggett married Edisto native Jessie Meggett and they built a four-room home on one acre of land for their 11 children. From there, she cooked for everyone in her family and, as she recalls, likely more than a hundred area children. Meggett’s family and friends long encouraged her to share her recipes in a cookbook, a novel concept to someone who never used one herself. She eventually relented, and a friend visited her daily to work on one recipe at a time. In April of 2022, Gullah Geechee Home Cooking was published and quickly became a New York Times bestseller. Among Meggett’s accolades is the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award from President Joe Biden. To this day, she wakes around two in the morning with inspiration of what to cook that day for all comers. When the door to her kitchen is open, you know you’ll be fed—no money needed, and no questions asked. [caption id="attachment_52744" align="alignright" width="250"] Credit: Amanda Malloy/McKIssick Museum[/caption] Hampton Rembert | Bishopville | Artist, Gospel Singing Raised on a sharecropper farm in Bishopville, 85-year-old Hampton Rembert has been singing gospel from a very young age. He learned with his family who would sing on Sundays and during family reunions. When he and 10 living siblings were younger, they formed a gospel choir of up to 21 members at one point that would sing at a different church every Sunday evening in Lee and Sumter counties. Rembert worked hard at his professions throughout his life. From working at his church to driving trucks through 28 states, and the lawn services he performs today, he always sang. Singing is one of his greatest joys and an experience that connects him to his family and his faith. His talent was threatened in 1998 with a prostate cancer diagnosis. Rembert had surgery in February, but one month after leaving the hospital, he was diagnosed with oral cancer and went back immediately for mouth and throat surgery. He knew that there was a possibility that he would never talk or sing again, a fear confirmed by his doctors. But Rembert credits the power of prayer from his friends and family for allowing him to testify at his church three months after surgery, and while that might be true, his attitude and tenacity played no small part. It has been 25 years since that diagnosis, and he still sings twice a month at his church and as often as he can with his siblings.

About the University of South Carolina McKissick Museum

The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum tells the story of southern life: community, culture, and the environment. The Museum is located on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe with available parking in the garage at the corner of Pendleton and Bull streets. All exhibitions are free and open to the public. The Museum is open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. The Museum is closed Sundays and university holidays. For more information, please call at 803.777.7251 or visit https://sc.edu/mckissickmuseum.

About the South Carolina Arts Commission

The mission of the South Carolina Arts Commission 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 four areas: arts learning, community and traditional arts, artist development, and arts industry. 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 Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for #Arts4SC and #SCartists content.
South Carolina Arts Commission News Release, Media Contact: Jason L. Rapp, Communications Director. jrapp@arts.sc.gov or 803.734.8899

Jason Rapp

Hub Quick Hits: #SCartists in the news

Headlined by Ranky Tanky

A couple #SCartists were in our in-box from weekend news reports.

The Hub thought these were worth sharing to readers...
  • Grammy Award-winning Charleston band Ranky Tanky added their second such award last night! They are award in the same category as in 2020, Regional Roots Music Album, for Live at the 2022 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. Big congrats to the band, which features S.C. Governor's Awards recipients Quentin Baxter and Charlton Singleton. Read the Post & Courier's coverage here (subscription possibly required).
  • Aldwyth, the 87-year-old legend, is staying relevant with a new exhibition in North Carolina. The Gregg Museum of Art and design is featuring the State Art Collection artist. From TechncianOnline: "This is Not: Aldwyth in Retrospect brings together 70 years worth of mononymous artist Aldwyth’s painting, embroidery, assemblage and collage work. Exhibit curator Mark Sloan said the exhibit was something of a capstone both for Aldwyth and for himself, marking 23 years of the pair’s collaboration." The Jameson Wolf piece is a joy to read.
  • Closer to home, WLTX in Columbia profiled Orangeburg artist Floyd Gordon. His experience coming from a family of 13(!) sharecroppers informed his art, which he's been completing for 75 years.

Got arts news? Remember to submit it to The Hub! Got arts events? Listings are free on the only statewide arts calendar—Arts Daily!

Jason Rapp

New McKissick exhibition shows off artistry of sweetgrass basketmaking

Basketmakers have sewn baskets in the South Carolina Lowcountry since the 17th century.

[caption id="attachment_50861" align="alignright" width="300"] Four Corners of Justice by Georgette Wright Sanders. Provided photo. Click image to enlarge.[/caption] The tradition has been preserved at the hands of the Gullah-Geechee people, descendants of enslaved West Africans trafficked to North America. For over 300 years, basketmakers have transformed baskets from a plantation tool into an art form. Today, basketmakers continue to leverage heritage tourism to make a living, to advocate for the preservation of the ecosystem vital to the tradition, and to experiment with scale, form, and materials. Sewn Through Time: Sweetgrass Basketmakers Reimagine a Tradition traces the evolution of sweetgrass baskets in South Carolina, highlighting the innovative work of contemporary makers. The lens brought to the baskets in this exhibit by Guest Curator Kennedy Bennett is that of an insider to the basketmaking community. A recent Yale graduate, Bennett explains

Growing up in Mount Pleasant as the daughter and granddaughter of basketmakers, I was enveloped in a community that kept Gullah-Geechee traditions alive. My grandmother, Thelma Bennett, other family members, and neighbors sewed sweetgrass baskets on their porch, at their basket stand, and at local businesses appealing to tourists. I am fortunate to have immersed myself in Gullah-Geechee culture—first as a descendant, and now in academic and curatorial contexts. 

Among the makers whose work will be featured are Antwon Ford, Georgette Wright Sanders, and Adell Swinton. Ford draws inspiration from gestalt psychology and the idea of a 4th dimension to conjure sculptural forms that represent “grass in motion.” With vessels like Four Corners of Justice that invoke both South Carolina’s sweetgrass basket and 19th century face vessel traditions, Sanders redeems the past to envision a better future. Swinton’s miniature versions of classic basket forms like the ring tray and purse with lid demonstrate technical virtuosity in the service of memorializing the imaginative reservoir and entrepreneurial spirit of past makers. The opening reception for Sewn Through Time will be Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022, 5:30-7 p.m. It is free and open to the public. Visitors are invited to meet Bennett as she shares how she came to study and write about sweetgrass baskets.
Front page image: Basket by Antwon Ford. Click here to view enlarged.

McKissick Museum and the SCAC are partners for the agency's Folklife & Traditional Arts program. Sewn Through Time: Sweetgrass Basketmakers Reimagine a Tradition is open from Aug. 11 to Dec. 10, 2022 at McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina (816 Bull St., Columbia, at the east end of the historic Horseshoe). Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free.

Jason Rapp

Brookgreen to get “green” to create more space for art, animals, more

$20 million capital campaign launches

There is good news from the Grand Strand this morning via The Sun News/The State: Brookgreen Gardens is pressing the upgrade button.

[caption id="attachment_49992" align="alignright" width="251"] A red wolf mother and pup. Provided photo. Click to enlarge.[/caption] A 90-year-old natural and artistic treasure, Brookgreen Gardens announced a $20 million overhaul via an exclusive to things such as its welcome center, and art and teaching spaces. The funds are coming because of a new capital campaign, which has commitments of more than 75% of the $20 million goal. The Hub doesn't mean to create a stir here (its not our news after all), but: there will be cute animals. This is not a drill! Read more about current happenings at Brookgreen Gardens, a wonderful confluence of nature, art, and history, at Brookgreen.org.
UPDATE: 28 April 2022, 08:58 ET: Brookgreen Gardens submitted the following news release to The Hub after the publication of this post. We are sharing it below. - Ed. [caption id="attachment_49993" align="aligncenter" width="961"]A bird's eye artist's rendering of the proposed new conservatory and rain garden. A bird's eye artist's rendering of the proposed new conservatory and rain garden at Brookgreen Gardens. Provided image.[/caption] Brookgreen Gardens, a National Historic Landmark on the Lowcountry coast, has announced an initiative to expand its art, nature, and history programs for the next generation. Brookgreen's first capital campaign in 25 years, the Campaign for the Next Generation includes new and renovated facilities as well as supporting endowments. The $20 million campaign was announced publicly for the first time today, with $16.1 million already pledged. “This campaign, will enable us to expand on the original vision of Brookgreen's founders, Archer and Anna Huntington," says Page Kiniry, president and CEO of Brookgreen Gardens. "This year, we celebrated Brookgreen's 90th anniversary. These new projects support our educational mission and ensure we are offering exciting, diverse, and relevant programs for our guests and members." Brookgreen is home to the largest and most significant collection of American figurative sculpture in the country. It is a leader in sculpture conservation, environmental conservation, and the protection of the plants, animals, and history of the South Carolina Lowcountry. The Campaign for the Next Generation will expand Brookgreen in four key areas: a new contemporary conservatory, new art facilities, expanded Lowcountry history exhibits, and a new exhibit in the Lowcountry Zoo.

A New Contemporary Conservatory

The largest capital project will be a new Contemporary Conservatory and surrounding wetland gardens. It will transform the campus, welcoming guests from around the world and enabling Brookgreen to expand horticulture programs. Guests will enjoy an accessible, year-round garden to explore tropical biomes, including a butterfly garden to educate children and families. The Conservatory and gardens will also add beautiful and unique spaces for events and programming.

The Art Facilities

New art facilities will help Brookgreen maintain its preeminence as a museum and teaching facility. The Brenda and Dick Rosen Galleries opened in February 2021 and offer gallery space for permanent and traveling exhibitions. The Rosen Galleries, generously funded by Brenda and Dick Rosen, include four vast exhibition spaces totaling over 5,800 square feet with a capacity of 600 and displays artworks that underpin Brookgreen's national recognition as a renowned museum. The Simpson Arts Center includes a state-of-the-art studio and sculpture conservation lab where guests will interact with nationally recognized sculptors and contemporary artists and accommodate a wider variety of classes and public programs. About 4,000 square feet, the new studio will support diverse media, including clay, wax, plaster, resin, 3D printing, and direct stone carving.

Expand Lowcountry History Exhibits

As the site of four former rice plantations, one of Brookgreen’s missions is to tell the story of the history of its inhabitants. The first project completed was the construction of the Leonard Pavilion, an open-air space used for events and educational programming. Completed in October 2019, the pavilion was named for Trustee Emeritus Don Leonard, who donated the lead gift for the building's construction. Funded by the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and the estate of Alberta Quattlebaum, Brookgreen's Gullah Geechee Gaardin presents the culture and history of the Gullah Geechee people, descendants of enslaved Africans brought to the U.S. to produce cash crops like rice and cotton. The exhibit, open since 2018, presents cross-generational oral histories of Georgetown County's Gullah Geechee residents through audio stations and written narratives. The campaign will also expand Bethea's Garden, which showcases heirloom varieties in an educational garden. Since 2018, the garden has provided flavorful and healthy produce to the diners at Brookgreen's restaurant, and through a partnership with a local food bank, to local families in need. The garden expansion will allow the cultivation of various fruits, berries, herbs, and plants that connect to Native Americans and South Carolina's agricultural history, such as indigo and cotton. The expansion, funded by the campaign, will include the addition of interpretive signage to provide narratives related to history exhibits and programs and additional public garden space for visitors to enjoy. The new Spanish goat exhibit, which opened in October 2021 as part of the Floyd Family Farm, contains a grazing area and barn to continue preserving and exhibiting this heritage breed. The program helps sustain this rare breed, increasing diversity and educating the public about the vital role of domestic animals in the state's history.

New Exhibit in Lowcountry Zoo

One of only five institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in the state, Brookgreen's Lowcountry Zoo allows guests to learn about animals that are native to the Lowcountry, including species seen in the wild. These animals engage visitors in the natural world, inspiring a deeper connection, a sense of wonder, and an interest in preservation. In November 2020, Brookgreen Gardens announced efforts to help protect the most endangered wolf in the world, the red wolf. Creating a new four-acre habitat in the Lowcountry Zoo will allow a pack of red wolves to live safely in their natural environment. The zoo will house two breeding wolf pairs in cooperation with the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan, a program designed to oversee the population management of an endangered species in captivity and enhance their conservation in the wild. In addition to these four key areas, the campaign will also raise endowment funds to support these new exhibits and facilities in perpetuity. "The completion of the Campaign for the Next Generation will position Brookgreen to expand educational programming and improve experiences in every aspect of our mission," says Dick Rosen, chair of Brookgreen's Campaign for the Next Generation board. "Brookgreen is a cultural treasure not just for us but the world. We hope to allow Brookgreen to continue to deliver the finest experiences and continue to be an institution of significant value for future generations." For more information and to donate to the Campaign for the Next Generation, visit www.brookgreen.org/campaign-next-generation. For renderings and images, visit https://spaces.hightail.com/space/RYNTL3QOpw.

About Brookgreen Gardens

Brookgreen Gardens, a National Historic Landmark and 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is located on U.S. 17 between Murrells Inlet and Pawleys Island, on South Carolina's Hammock Coast, and is open to the public daily. Founded in 1931 by Anna Hyatt Huntington and Archer Huntington, Brookgreen is home to the country's largest and most significant collection of American Figurative Sculpture. It is a leader in sculpture conservation, environmental conservation, and the protection of the plants, animals, and history of the South Carolina Lowcountry. For more information, visit www.brookgreen.org or call 843.235.6000.

Jason Rapp

IAAM gets third round of support from Ford Foundation

Grant to assist Gullah storytelling, more

The International African American Museum has received a grant of $500,000 from the Ford Foundation that will support its inaugural year of operation, including exhibition installations and early programming, genealogy workshops, and Gullah storytelling programs.

This is the third grant from Ford to the museum since 2017, and it brings the foundation’s total gifts to nearly $1 million. With opening set for late 2022, this investment comes at a crucial time. IAAM President and CEO Dr. Tonya Matthews called 2022 a "momentum year." “As we head down the finish line of artifact and exhibition installation, we are also launching several programs and beginning to connect with educators across the country while we design our K-12 curriculum,” Matthews said. “We are only able to do this with the vision and support of organizations like the Ford Foundation. We are incredibly grateful for their continuing support.” Exhibitions will explore the real human cost and suffering of slavery, but they will also honor ancestors; celebrate cultures, like Gullah Geechee, that were forged in the crucible of the antebellum South; explore the cultural impact that began in Charleston and spread across the U.S. and the Caribbean; and then connect descendants to their ancestors through an award-winning genealogical research center. “We are honored to work with the International African American Museum and ensure that the history of enslaved Africans is preserved for years to come,” said Margaret Morton, director of creativity and free expression for the Ford Foundation. “The museum will be a critical resource for researchers and visitors alike, and we look forward to seeing the lasting impact its programming will provide.” Ford’s support for the International African American Museum will provide visitors—nationally and internationally—an opportunity to experience the African American journey at one of the most historic sites in the nation: the former Gadsden's Wharf, the point of disembarkation for so many enslaved Africans. Matthews is eager to open the museum doors to visitors. "The International African American Museum is excited to have the Ford Foundation among its partners. Both institutions strive to ensure that all individuals, and their stories, receive just and equitable treatment. The stories and artifacts within the museum, alongside the connections made because of them, are being intentionally curated with this understanding. The International African American Museum will prompt difficult conversations, tell a complete history, and spark action to build a more perfect union,” she said.
The International African American Museum (IAAM) explores cultures and knowledge systems retained and adapted by Africans in the Americas and the diverse journeys and achievements of these individuals and their descendants in South Carolina, the United States, and throughout the African Diaspora. IAAM is a champion of authentic, empathetic storytelling of American history and is thus one of the nation’s newest platforms for the disruption of institutionalized racism as it evolves today. Set to open in late 2022, IAAM is positioned to honor the untold stories of the African American journey from Charleston, S.C., at the historically sacred site of Gadsden’s Wharf and beyond. For more information, please visit iaamuseum.org or call 843-872-5352.
The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization with assets currently valued at $16 billion. For more than 85 years it has worked with courageous people on the frontlines of social change worldwide, guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the Foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Jason Rapp

Launch party announced for new Jonathan Green book

Party with the artist Dec. 16

The Koger Center in Columbia announced plans to celebrate the launch of Jonathan Green's new book with a party on Thursday, Dec. 16 from 6-7:30 p.m.

Jonathan Green Spoleto 2016Green's depictions of the Gullah life and culture, established by descendants of enslaved Africans who settled between northern Florida and North Carolina during the nineteenth century have earned him considerable notoriety. The vividly colored paintings and prints have captured and preserved the daily rituals and Gullah traditions of his childhood in the Lowcountry marshes of South Carolina. In 2010, the South Carolina Arts Commission presented Green the Governor's Award for the Arts in lifetime achievement. From press materials about Gullah Spirit:

While his art continues to express the same energy, color, and deep respect for his ancestors, Green's techniques have evolved to feature bolder brush strokes and a use of depth and texture, all guided by his maturing artistic vision that is now more often about experiencing freedom and contentment through his art. This vision is reflected in the 179 new paintings featured in Gullah Spirit. His open and inviting images beckon the world to not only see this vanishing culture but also to embrace its truth and enduring spirit.

Using both the aesthetics of his heritage and the abstraction of the human figure, Green creates an almost mythological narrative from his everyday observations of rural and urban environments. Expressed through his mastery of color, Green illuminates the challenges and beauty of work, love, belonging, and the richness of community.

Angela D. Mack, executive director of the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, provides a foreword. The book also includes short essays by historian Walter B. Edgar, educator Kim Cliett Long, and curator Kevin Grogan.

Tickets for the event are $65 and available now by clicking here.

Jason Rapp

From The State: Sweetgrass basketry fighting for survival

A tradition in peril

Sweetgrass basketry intertwines with South Carolina heritage in the same way that the grasses come together to form the renowned finished product.

But for how much longer will it be part of the present? Today, Caitlin Byrd of The State tries to get a grasp on the situation (subscription possibly required):

Also driving up the price of baskets is the increased development in the coastal region, which continues to cut off access to the very plants Black families use to make sweetgrass baskets. And then there’s the concern about time itself, as a generation of sewers worry that this craft, which can trace its origins to the 17th century, will not be carried on in the way it once was.

This traditional art form is no stranger to The Hub or the South Carolina Arts Commission.
  • Sweetgrass basketmakers have been Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award recipients many times since the first in 1990, and the most recent was in 2018. (The Folk Heritage Award is presented annually by the SCAC and its partner the University of South Carolina McKissick Museum.)
  • A basket by Mary Jackson, one of the most decorated artisans, is included in the State Art Collection and is included in The State's story.

Jason Rapp

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.

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