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Jason Rapp

S.C. Arts Awards: Robert W. Hill III

2021 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year's recipients: seven receiving the South Carolina Governor's Awards for the Arts and two receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.

Robert W. Hill III

Advocacy Category: American Long Rifle & Accoutrements | Folk Heritage Award

Robert W. Hill III began making duck decoys in his early 20's, and eventually added other figures and animals to his repertoire. Hill’s work ranged from traditional whittling to refined sculptures. Both of his grandfathers were accomplished blacksmiths, woodcarvers, and gun stockers. While neither of them lived long enough to teach Hill their skills, he grew up an avid outdoorsman with an interest in the skills that supported his passion, which included decoy carving, forging knives, and carving gun stocks. In 1985, his desire to own a handmade muzzle- loading rifle drove him to learn more about the traditional crafts of blacksmithing, tool making, stock carving, inlaying, and engraving. While attending art shows across the region, Hill had the opportunity to watch and learn from master engraver Jack Spain. Spain would share tips on engraving and teach Hill how to make his own engraving tools. Back at home, Hill practiced engraving on scrap metal, constantly comparing his work to examples of engraving on historic firearms. He attempted to mimic the work of the Gillespie family of gunsmiths from Pickens County and the Vogler family of Salem, North Carolina. These Carolina gunsmithing families had established styles that were recognized as the best representatives of America’s golden age of gunsmithing. Hill also developed a relationship with master gunsmith Frank Burton, who was running a shop out of Pawleys Island. Burton shared his collection of original Carolina rifles with Hill, who was soon producing his first muzzle-loader. The untimely death of Burton prevented Hill from completing a long-term apprenticeship with the master gunsmith, but he certainly made the most of his time with the artist. Hill attended Dixon’s Gunmaker’s Fair in Kempton, Pennsylvania, a conference of traditional gun makers and after a year of studying and experimenting, Hill completed his first rifle. He took the rifle to the next conference in Kempton and entered it in the competition so he could receive the judges’ critique sheet to learn how to improve. To his surprise, his first rifle won a second- and third- place ribbon in the show. Hill recognized the need to preserve the craft and continued his training by studying historic firearms from the Carolinas. Hill embraced the chance to work with older makers. Today, he is part of a thriving community of gunsmiths and is recognized by gunsmiths across the region as both an exemplary artist and an advocate. The success of his first gun spurred him on to continue gun making and share what he knew with others who wanted to learn the craft and, like him, did not have access to formal training. Hill began demonstrating at Kings Mountain State Park in 1986 and continued to do so until 1999. He has promoted the art of traditional gunsmithing to thousands of people in the Southeast over the past thirty years. He continues to demonstrate gun building techniques, including carving and engraving, at living history events, battlefields, museums, and historic sites. These include Middleton Place, Charlestown Landing, Historic Camden, Horry County Museum, L.W. Paul Living History Farm, House in the Horseshoe, Guilford Courthouse, Colonial Williamsburg, Georgetown County Museum, and the Lake City Museum. He has been the gunsmith at the North Carolina State Fair’s Village of Yesteryear for over twenty years and was instrumental in organizing the South Carolina Muzzleloader Conference at the South Carolina State Museum in 2015, where he volunteered as an event organizer, demonstrator, and lecturer. In 1994, Hill co-founded the South Carolina Artist Blacksmith Association, later to become the Phillip Simmons Artists Blacksmith Guild of South Carolina. He served as president of the group for ten years and frequently demonstrated forging and engraving techniques. He is also a member of the Contemporary Longrifle Association. In 2014, Hill was documented in the Survey of South Carolina Tradition Bearers a joint project of McKissick Museum and the S.C. Arts Commission. Through demonstrations and lectures, he has educated people about gun makers from South Carolina to recognize and preserve the contributions of the artists of the State’s past artists. Hill has been instrumental in passing his skills onto others, including his son and grandson, assuring a legacy of continued preservation, study, and celebration of the traditional craft of gunsmithing.
The South Carolina Arts Awards stream live Monday, May 24, 2021. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. on SouthCarolinaArts.com. There is no in-person event in 2021. The virtual ceremony will be available on demand from the S.C. Arts Commission YouTube Channel after the livestream presentation.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.

Jason Rapp

S.C. Arts Awards: Jugnu Verma

2021 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year's recipients: seven receiving the South Carolina Governor's Awards for the Arts and two receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.

Jugnu Verma

Artist Category: Traditional Indian Folk Arts | Folk Heritage Award

Jugnu Verma was born in Bihar, the state in India where the art form Madhubani painting originated. Growing up in Bihar, Verma found herself surrounded by Madhubani artists, whose painting was characterized by distinctive geometric patterns. Madhubani paintings depict people, nature, and scenes featuring Hindu deities. Objects like the sun and moon are also common, along with scenes from the royal court and social events like weddings. Madhubani painting was one of the skills passed down, primarily by women, from generation to generation in the families of the Mithila Region of Bihar. Verma developed an interest in it at an early age. She was fascinated by the variety of tools involved in creating the paintings, including the fingers, twigs, and brushes. Verma took the initiative and learned the art form from her neighbors. Rangoli, another traditional art form with cultural significance in the Indian community, involves the creation of colorful patterns on the floor using sand, flower petals, rice flour, lentils, and beans. Verma learned rangoli from her neighbor’s grandmother, who taught her the different styles and symbolism within the art. Over the years, Verma improvised and took her work in a variety of creative directions. Typically, rangolis are made at the entrance of homes and temples to bring good luck and as a welcome symbol for visitors. They are an important part of celebratory festivals like Diwali and Onam. Henna is a plant-based dye that is used to create temporary designs on the body and is an integral part of Indian weddings and festivals. During a traditional Indian wedding, the mehndi (henna) ceremony involves applying henna designs to the bride and to the guests. Verma learned the traditional art from her mother, a seasoned henna artist. Growing up, Verma created henna designs on her sisters, cousins, aunts, and friends. Thirty years later, henna artistry has become an important part of Verma’s creative lifestyle, and she is a prominent henna artist in South Carolina. Verma is eager and enthusiastic about sharing her artistic traditions through her work as a Diwali (Indian Festival of Lights) party organizer and in workshops, and exhibitions at the Columbia Museum of Art; the rangoli educator at Overdue: Curated for the Creative, Richland County Main Library; and as a lead artist at Artista Vista in Columbia. Verma enjoys working with young people and teaches traditional Indian art forms extensively in the local school districts. Verma feels it is important for South Carolinians to know about India and its culture and she serves as a cultural ambassador through her work throughout the state. She is passionate about cultural outreach and building bonds with the larger community. According to Verma, “Folk art enhances and enriches celebrations and rituals, and it tells people who others are.”
The South Carolina Arts Awards stream live Monday, May 24, 2021. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. on SouthCarolinaArts.com. There is no in-person event in 2021. The virtual ceremony will be available on demand from the S.C. Arts Commission YouTube Channel after the livestream presentation.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.

Jason Rapp

S.C. Arts Awards to stream live again in 2021

Virtual presentation planned for May 24


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Awards will honor South Carolinians for their exceptional achievements in, support of, or advocacy for the arts during a professionally produced online streaming presentation planned for Monday, May 24, 2020 at 6 p.m. The South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) and partner McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina look forward to honoring the seven recipients of the South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts and two recipients of the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards in a special online presentation on SouthCarolinaArts.com. Lead host and SCAC Executive Director David Platts will be joined again by South Carolina First Lady Peggy McMaster as co-host from the Governor’s Mansion. UofSC McKissick Museum Executive Director Jane Przybysz will join Platts and McMaster to announce the Folk Heritage Award recipients. Platts will announce the Governor’s Award recipients. Before the pandemic, the South Carolina Arts Awards were presented at an in-person ceremony. Rather than cancel in 2020, the ceremony was shifted to a virtual format that was successful for its extended reach and production quality. After overwhelmingly positive feedback—and with lingering COVID-19 transmission concerns—the ceremony will again be presented online, at no cost to viewers anywhere. Surprise guests will join to help introduce each recipient. Mini-films by South Carolina filmmakers Drew Baron, Lynn Cornfoot, Abe Duenas, Patrick Hayes, Roni Henderson, Lee Ann Kornegay, and Ebony Wilson will debut, telling each recipient’s story. The filmmakers worked under the direction of producer Betsy Newman. Location shooting for the ceremony and production of the stream are being provided by Midlands-based iSite Multimedia and Fisher Films. The Governor’s Award recipients were announced in February. The recipients are:
  • Tom Flowers (posthumous, Greenville): Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Charlton Singleton (Charleston): Artist Category
  • Jennifer Clark Evins (Spartanburg): Individual Category
  • Tayloe Harding (Columbia): Arts in Education Category
  • Colonial Life (Columbia): Business/Foundation Category
  • ColaJazz Foundation (Columbia): Organization Category
  • Marjory Wentworth (Mount Pleasant): Special Award
The Folk Heritage Award recipients were also announced in February. Being honored are:
  • Jugnu Verma (Lexington): Traditional Indian folk arts
  • Robert W. Hill, III (Plantersville): Advocacy, American long rifles and accoutrements

 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. About McKissick Museum The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum tells the story of southern life: community, culture, and the environment. The Museum, located on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe, has more than 140,000 objects in its collection, including one of the most extensive natural science collections in the Southeast. For visitation information, online exhibits, and more, please visit sc.edu/mckissickmuseum.

Jason Rapp

2021 Folk Heritage Awards recipients announced

Proving S.C. traditions 'long-lived and ever-evolving'


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

COLUMBIA, S.C. – In 2021, the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards will be presented by the General Assembly to two recipients being honored for work keeping the state’s traditional art forms alive.

One practicing artist and one arts advocate are to be recognized as ambassadors of traditions significant to communities throughout the state. Their traditions embody folklife’s dynamic, multigenerational nature and its fusion of artistic and utilitarian ideals. The 2021 recipients are:
  • Jugnu Verma (Lexington): Traditional Indian folk arts
  • Robert Hill, III (Plantersville): Advocacy, American long rifles and accoutrements
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. Up to four artists or organizations and one advocate may receive awards each year. The program is managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and the University of South Carolina McKissick Museum. Community members make nominations to recognize exemplary artistic achievement/advocacy. An independent advisory panel appointed by the lieutenant governor and president of the Senate select the recipients, who must be living and practicing in the state. “From a gun-making tradition that hearkens back to colonial America, when Carolinians commonly used rifles for hunting, to the art of rangoli—a patterned ground decoration created with colored rice and flower petals that community members have more recently brought with them from India and introduced to South Carolina—the state’s folklife is both long-lived and ever-evolving,” observes McKissick Museum Executive Director Jane Przybysz. “By their very definition, folk arts illustrate both the rich heritage and broad diversity of who we, as South Carolinians, are as a people,” South Carolina Arts Commission Executive Director David Platts said. “It is sometimes said that we are a state where change and changelessness co-exist, and this year’s award recipients reflect something of this balance between preserving South Carolina’s traditions and opening ourselves to new and exciting art forms and experiences from around the world. Both artists do exceptional work on our behalf, and we are all grateful for what they do.” The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards and South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts and are presented at the South Carolina Arts Awards ceremony. The pandemic forced the shift of last year’s ceremony to a virtual format in July rather than May. A virtual ceremony is planned once again for 2021, but it will revert to its normal timeframe in the spring. The SCAC and UofSC McKissick Museum will announce a date and time later.

About the 2021 South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts Recipients

Jugnu Verma | Lexington | Traditional Indian Folk Arts Growing up in the Indian state of Bihar, Jugnu Verma found herself surrounded by Madhubani artists, whose painting was characterized by distinctive geometric patterns and depicted people, nature, and scenes featuring Hindu deities. An early interest led to learning the art form from neighbors in the community, as well as rangoli from the neighbor’s grandmother. From her mother, Verma learned the art of Henna, an integral part of Indian weddings and festivals where a plant-based dye is used to create temporary designs on the body. Verma is eager and enthusiastic about sharing her artistic traditions at various venues, which include her work as a Diwali (Indian Festival of Lights) Kick-off Party Organizer, workshops, and exhibitions at the Columbia Museum of Art, the rangoli educator at Overdue: Curated for the Creative, Richland Library Main Branch, and as a lead artist at Artista Vista in Columbia. She has served as Artist in Residence at Lexington District One’s New Providence Elementary, River Bluff High and White Knoll elementary school where she taught students Madhubani and other art forms. Verma feels it is important for South Carolinians to know about India and its culture and she serves as a cultural ambassador through her work throughout the state. Robert W. Hill, III | Plantersville | Advocacy: American Long Rifles and Accoutrements From Plantersville, Robert W. Hill III grew up an avid outdoorsman eager to learn the skills to support his passion for decoy carving, forging knives, and carving gun stocks. His paternal grandfather had been an accomplished blacksmith, woodcarver, and gun stocker who, unfortunately, did not live long enough to teach Hill his skills. But he was nonetheless an inspiration to Hill pursuing his passion. Hill had the opportunity to watch and learn from master engraver Jack Spain and developed a relationship with master gunsmith Frank Burton. After a year of studying and experimenting, Hill completed his first rifle. He recognized the need to preserve the craft and continued his training by studying historic firearms from the Carolinas. Today, he is recognized by gunsmiths across the region as both an exemplary artist and an advocate. In 1994, he co-founded the South Carolina Artist Blacksmith Association, later to become the Phillip Simmons Artists Blacksmith Guild of South Carolina. Through demonstrations and lectures, he has educated people about gun makers from South Carolina to recognize and preserve the artists of the state’s past. Hill passes his skills onto others, including his son and grandson, assuring a legacy of continued preservation, study, and celebration of the traditional craft of gunsmithing.

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 sc.edu/mckissickmuseum.

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

Tuning Up: COVID claims S.C. shag master + awards + more

Good morning!  "Tuning Up" is a morning post series where The Hub delivers curated, quick-hit arts stories of interest to readers. Sometimes there will be one story, sometimes there will be several. Get in tune now, and have a masterpiece of a day. And now, in no particular order...


Columbia Film Society welcomes Dr. Thaddeus Jones

From a CFS email:

Meet Thaddeus Jones, our new CFS Director of Programming! Dr. Jones will direct film programming for the Nick and lead the Indie Grits Fellowship and media education programs. He has 15 years experience in filmmaking, media instruction and writing and for the last ten years, has managed his own media production company, fanatikproductions. He has been connected to CFS as a film curator and Indie Grits Fellow.

Jeppy McDowell dies at 76

Jeptha Joseph McDowell, better known as “Jeppy,” made North Myrtle Beach home and worked his way into being a legend in the local shag dancing scene. (Confused? You see, the shag is South Carolina's state dance.) The State reports "McDowell died due to complications from COVID-19 on Oct. 17. He was 76. COVID-19 is hitting the Grand Strand shag community hard. More on his passing from The State:

McDowell’s passing comes as others in the North Myrtle Beach shag community have fallen ill and died. In late September, several North Myrtle Beach clubs and restaurants participated in an unofficial Shaggin’ On Main event. In the days and weeks that followed, at least 14 people tested positive for COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

Two others connected to the shag community have also died, though, like McDowell, it remains unclear if their deaths are related to the events. According to data from the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, 210 people in the North Myrtle Beach zip code tested positive for COVID-19 in the two weeks following the events.

Read the full story from The State here (subscription possibly required).

Two weeks' notice

This is your two-weeks' notice that nomination time is coming to a close for the South Carolina Governor's Awards for the Arts and the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award. Nominations for both are due by 11:59 p.m. ET Friday, Nov. 6.

Jason Rapp

It’s time to honor stewards of S.C.’s folklife and traditional arts

Nominations sought for Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina want to honor exceptional practitioners and advocates working in the Palmetto State’s folklife and traditional arts.

Eligible artists and advocates fitting those descriptions can now be nominated for the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1987 to recognize lifetime achievement in the traditional arts, the Folk Heritage Award is presented annually by the General Assembly to honor the work of stewarding and furthering the traditional arts significant to communities throughout the state. The South Carolina Arts Commission and UofSC’s McKissick Museum jointly manage the awards. Up to four artists and one advocate may receive awards each year. Nominations are accepted in two categories:
  • Artists: South Carolina artists who have dedicated their lives to the practice of art forms that have been passed down through their families and communities and who have demonstrated a commitment to keeping their tradition alive. Past awards have recognized art forms such as basket making, gospel singing, bluegrass and old-time fiddling, hammock making and boat building, among many others.
  • Advocates: South Carolina individuals and groups who have worked to further traditional culture in the state. Those who are not traditional artists, but who have provided service that helps to sustain and promote South Carolina traditions, are eligible for the advocacy award.
The deadline to submit nominations is Friday, Nov. 6, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Before submitting a nomination, you are strongly advised to contact Program Specialist for Community Arts & Folklife Dr. Laura Marcus Green to determine whether your nominee is eligible: lgreen@arts.sc.gov or 803.734.8764. For program guidelines and nomination instructions for the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, visit SouthCarolinaArts.com. The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, along with the Governor’s Awards for the Arts, will be presented at the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards ceremony in the spring. This year, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the first virtual South Carolina Arts Awards ceremony, which occurred in July rather than May. A decision on how and when the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards will be presented is to be announced at a later date.
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, S.C., 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.
About McKissick Museum The University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum tells the story of southern life: community, culture, and the environment. The Museum, located on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe, has more than 140,000 objects in its collection, including one of the most extensive natural science collections in the Southeast. For visitation information, online exhibits, and more, please visit sc.edu/mckissickmuseum.

Jason Rapp

Get started on those Folk Heritage Award nominations


Your new weekend assignment is posted.

Last week it was the Governor's Awards for the Arts. Starting today, you can also nominate exceptional folk and traditional arts practitioners and advocates... but for the 2021 Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards. Nominations are open until Friday, Nov. 6, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Get all the details and begin your nomination(s) here. We can't wait to see which deserving individuals and organizations get one of these statues next spring at the South Carolina Arts Awards.

Jason Rapp

2020 S.C. Arts Awards to be presented online


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

COLUMBIA, S.C. – Postponed from their May 6 intended date because of the pandemic, the South Carolina Arts Awards will instead honor exceptional South Carolinians in a professionally produced streaming presentation planned for Monday, July 13, 2020 at 5:30 p.m.

The South Carolina Arts Commission (SCAC) and frequent partner McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina will honor the six recipients of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts and five recipients of the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards in a special online presentation. The virtual ceremony will be presented live, at no cost to viewers, on the SCAC’s Vimeo page and YouTube Channel. SCAC Executive Director David Platts will be the lead host of the virtual ceremony and will be joined in a special location by a surprise co-host. UofSC McKissick Museum Executive Director Jane Przybysz will announce the Folk Heritage Award recipients, and Platts will announce the Verner Award recipients. Mini-films by South Carolina filmmakers Drew Baron, Patrick Hayes, Roni Henderson, Lee Ann Kornegay, and Ebony Wilson will be debuted to tell each recipient’s story. The filmmakers worked under the direction of producer Betsy Newman. Location shooting for the ceremony and production of the stream are being provided by Midlands-based iSite Multimedia and Fisher Films. The Verner Award recipients were announced in February. In the following categories, the recipients are:
  • LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT: Philip Mullen, Columbia
  • ARTIST: Glenis Redmond, Mauldin
  • INDIVIDUAL: Mary Inabinett Mack, St. Helena Island
  • ARTS IN EDUCATION: Cindy Riddle, Campobello
  • BUSINESS: United Community Bank, Greenville
  • ORGANIZATION: Charleston Gaillard Center, Charleston
The Folk Heritage Award recipients were announced in March. They are:
  • Kristin Scott Benson (Boiling Springs): Bluegrass Banjo
  • David Galloway (Seneca): Spiritual Gospel Singing
  • Voices of El Shaddai (Hilton Head Island/Bluffton area): Lowcountry Gospel Music
  • Judy Twitty (Gilbert): Quilting
  • Vennie Deas Moore (Georgetown): Folklore and Cultural Preservation

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, S.C., 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.

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, located on the University of South Carolina’s historic Horseshoe, has more than 140,000 objects in its collection, including one of the most extensive natural science collections in the Southeast. For visitation information, online exhibits, and more, please visit sc.edu/mckissickmuseum.

Jason Rapp

S.C. Arts Awards postponed because of COVID-19 concerns

Official Statement from the S.C. Arts Commission

The South Carolina Arts Awards scheduled for May 5-6, 2020 are being POSTPONED until further notice. This postponement includes the May 5 McKissick Mixer with Folk Heritage Award recipients and the May 6 South Carolina Arts Awards luncheon and public ceremony. With the ongoing uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and all the associated closings, leadership from the South Carolina Arts Commission and University of South Carolina McKissick Museum decided together that now is the time to postpone. Even in a best-case scenario regarding virus transmission, the work necessary to prepare for the awards festivities will be hampered by current schedule alterations and those that might still come. Further, absent a firm idea of when the festivities could realistically take place, the best thing to do is remove this uncertainty to focus instead on health and safety. The S.C. Arts Commission and UofSC McKissick Museum will work to find more suitable dates and times to honor and thank the recipients of the Elizabeth O'Neill Verner Governor's Award for the Arts and the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards for their achievements and contributions to arts and culture in South Carolina.

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, S.C., 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.

About 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 sc.edu/mckissickmuseum.

Jason Rapp

SCAC, McKissick Museum announce 2020 Folk Heritage Award recipients

Four artists & one advocate receive awards May 6


  For Immediate Release COLUMBIA, S.C. – The General Assembly is to honor five recipients with the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, presented annually to recognize work that keeps the state’s traditional art forms alive. Four artists and one advocate are to be recognized as practitioners and advocates of traditional arts significant to communities throughout the state. Their traditions embody folklife’s dynamic, multi-generational nature and its fusion of artistic and utilitarian ideals. The 2020 recipients are:
  • Kristin Scott Benson (Boiling Springs): Bluegrass Banjo
  • David Galloway (Seneca): Spiritual Gospel Singing
  • Voices of El Shaddai (Hilton Head Island/Bluffton area): Lowcountry Gospel Music
  • Judy Twitty (Gilbert): Quilting
  • Vennie Deas Moore (Georgetown): Folklore and Cultural Preservation
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. Up to four artists or organizations and one advocate may receive awards each year. The program is managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and the University of South Carolina McKissick Museum. Community members make nominations to recognize exemplary artistic achievement/advocacy. An independent advisory panel appointed by the speaker of the House and president of the Senate select the recipients, who must be living and practicing in the state. “In the face of nonstop change, these recipients are to be commended for keeping South Carolina’s traditional art forms alive and thriving,” South Carolina Arts Commission Executive Director David Platts said. “The value of these art forms is that they tell who we are as South Carolinians. They do exceptional work on our behalf, and we all are grateful for what these award recipients do.” The Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award will be presented along with the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts at the South Carolina Arts Awards on Wednesday, May 6 at the Pastides Alumni Center at UofSC (900 Senate St., Columbia). A ticketed celebratory luncheon will begin the festivities at 11:30 a.m. before the free, public ceremony at 1 p.m. Luncheon tickets are $50 per person and available for purchase through SouthCarolinaArts.com or by calling 803.734.8696. The UofSC McKissick Museum will host a mixer to celebrate this year’s Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award recipients on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, from 6-8 p.m., at the Blue Moon Ballroom in West Columbia (554 Meeting St.). Admission is free with a McKissick membership, or $5 for non-members. Please RSVP or purchase your ticket via Eventbrite here or by phone at 803.777.2876. Guests are encouraged to buy/reserve their tickets by Friday, May 1. Only a limited number of tickets will be available at the door on the evening of the event, and admission will be on a first-come, first-served basis.For more information about the Folk Heritage Awards, visit the S.C. Arts Commission website, SouthCarolinaArts.com.
ABOUT THE FOLK HERITAGE AWARDS RECIPIENTS Kristin Scott Benson (Artist Category, Bluegrass Banjo) was first nourished in her music tradition by her musician father and her grandfather, Orval Hogan, who played mandolin with the WBT Briarhoppers. Growing up in South Carolina’s Upstate region, where bluegrass was part of the local culture, she started on the mandolin at five years old, and by age ten was drawn to the banjo. Her mentor, Al Osteen, a revered banjo picker and teacher, taught Benson to not only play, but how to “think and listen.” She passes this solid foundation, along with her extensive experience, on to her own students. Benson first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry at age 19 and has since played there over 100 times. She has been recognized as the International Bluegrass Music Association's (IBMA) Banjo Player of the Year four times, and in 2018 received the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. She has played with the Grammy-nominated bluegrass band, The Grascals, since 2008. David Galloway (Artist Category, Spiritual Gospel Singing) has spent his life in the Pendleton and Sandy Springs communities. His musical influence rests largely with his mother, who was a pastor, and her siblings, who used to sing “shape notes.” Galloway’s elders also instilled a passion for the negro spiritual. As teenagers, he and his brothers sang gospel at revivals and church services throughout the Upstate. Galloway served as Superintendent of the Sunday School at the King’s Chapel AME Church in Pendleton, where he was also an inspiration for the Junior Choir, the Young Adult Choir, the Senior Choir, the Gospel Choir, and the Male Chorus. Galloway and the KCs—a group upholding the roots of traditional spirituals, shape-note music and contemporary gospel—have sung at local churches, revivals, AME Conventions, and hosted gospel programs. Galloway remains a member of the Kings Chapel AME church choirs and as a soloist, participates in special programs, revivals, and anniversaries. For over 27 years, Voices of El Shaddai (Artist Organization Category, Lowcountry Gospel Music) choir have come together to sing. Most Voices members are native South Carolina Sea Islanders from a variety of local church choirs. Transcending geographic and musical boundaries, their music stems from oral traditions within the Lowcountry African-American religious experience. Repetition, a call-and-response pattern, and strong vocals are musical elements historically based in 19th-century African American spirituals, with melodic connections to West Africa. The Voices’ unique repertoire includes both traditional spirituals and contemporary gospel. The group’s knowledge of indigenous Gullah-Geechee musical traditions is passed down through generations of family and community members. Committed to raising the visibility of and appreciation for Lowcountry Gospel and Gullah music and culture, the Voices perform regularly at programs presented by such organizations as the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, the Gullah Museum, and the Coastal Discovery Museum, as well as at community celebrations and various churches and congregations. Judy Twitty (Artist Category, Quilting) has spent a lifetime immersed in the art of patchwork quilting. As a girl in New Brunswick, Canada, she spent time with her grandmother, enjoying the camaraderie of quilting circles. After marrying and moving to South Carolina, Twitty took a patchwork quilting class in 1972 at the Columbia YWCA, where she soon began teaching. Over the years, Twitty has made quilts for friends, family, and as donations to community members. She has taught classes and workshops throughout the state, written articles for diverse publications, and helped found the statewide guild, Quilters of South Carolina (QSC). Twitty’s love of innovation has inspired her and others to explore the limits of their imagination, from a revival of the 19th-century Victorian crazy quilt technique, to creating embroidered, eco-dyed fabric books. Twitty’s quilting has garnered awards at local quilt shows, the South Carolina State Fair, the QSC Quilters’ Expo, and the prestigious American Quilters Society annual show. Vennie Deas Moore (Advocacy Category, Folklore & Cultural Preservation) is a folklorist and cultural preservationist. Born and raised in South Carolina’s Lowcountry, she has witnessed firsthand the community’s ever-changing cultural landscape. Her thirty-year career is informed and inspired by her ancestors, particularly her mother, Eugenia Deas, a 2005 Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award recipient. Deas Moore’s extensive freelance career encompasses oral history, folklore research, documentary photography, and medical history. Through her research, writing, documentary photography, and public lectures, she has created a body of impactful and powerful stories as a vehicle for education and cultural preservation. Her work focuses on Lowcountry people, places, work, traditions, and foodways, with an enduring specialty in the heritage of coastal fisherman. Her research has led to collaborations with diverse state and national historical sites and institutions, including the University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum, the South Carolina State Museum, Historic Columbia, and Richland County Library, among many others. Deas Moore is currently a cultural historian and curator at the Rice Museum in Georgetown.
ABOUT THE FOLKLIFE AND TRADITIONAL ARTS PROGRAM The Folklife and Traditional Arts Program is designed to encourage, promote, conserve and honor the diverse community-based art forms that make South Carolina distinct. The major initiatives of the program serve both established and emerging cultural groups that call South Carolina home.
ABOUT 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 sc.edu/mckissickmuseum.
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, S.C., 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.