← View All Articles

S.C. Arts Awards Spotlight Series: Darion McCloud

Governor's Award: Artist Category

As the day nears for the 2022 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year's recipients: four receiving the South Carolina Governor's Awards for the Arts and three 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.

Darion McCloud is an actor, director, storyteller, educator, arts activist, and children’s literature advocate from Columbia.

[caption id="attachment_50263" align="alignright" width="350"] Darion McCloud (left) received his Governor's Award from SCAC Executive Director David Platts on May 19, 2022. Click image to enlarge. SCAC photo.[/caption] He is also the founder and creative director both of NiA Theatre Company and Story Squad. McCloud is a Riley Institute Diversity Fellow and the 2019 recipient of the Theatre Artist of the Year Award from The Jasper Project. Awards from the University of South Carolina include the Andrew Billingsley Award and the Literacy Leader Award – further recognitions of his work. McCloud is a formally trained visual artist with a bachelor’s in art studio from the University of South Carolina. He found his way to the stage via telling stories and stayed, acting and teaching there for more than 20 years. He enjoys crafting theatre, storytelling, and art experiences for the old and young, the initiated and the un-initiated in environments as varied as classrooms, corporate settings, libraries, and even campfires. Theatres, certainly, are places where McCloud makes art; he is a company member for Columbia-based Trustus Theatre and the South Carolina Shakespeare Company. He collaborated in projects with Benedict College, Francis Marion University, the University of South Carolina, and school districts in Kershaw and Richland counties in the education space. Work in the humanities has taken him to the Charleston Public, Richland, and South Carolina State libraries as well as Historic Columbia. He has further arts sector work with the Mint Museum in Charlotte, Piccolo Spoleto and with the Columbia Museum of Art, Kershaw County Fine Arts Center, and South Carolina Philharmonic closer to home. He even fit in work with the UofSC athletics department’s “Pigskin Poets” initiative. McCloud considers himself as having committed his life to the transforming power of art.
The South Carolina Arts Awards are coming live to SCETV on Monday, June 13, 2022 at 9 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

Tuning Up: Pair of #SCartists recognized with awards

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...

We'll save the medals for Tokyo, but...

Two #SCartists were recently named winners of competitions or calls for art. Press play and read on.

Traci Neal wins York (Pennsylvania) Story Slam

Poet Traci Neal of Columbia competed virtually in the York Story Slam and came out of the experience victorious (Columbia Star). Neal told The Hub that despite being the only South Carolinian and only African American, "What gave me the courage to share my story were the students I had been reading my children’s book series to." She is two books in to the "Lynn Learns Lessons" series she is writing. "My nervousness and fear of failure did not matter to me as much as being an example to the children I had read to. I taught those children about believing in their dreams. I let them know they are the only ones who can stop their dreams from becoming a reality. That is what gave me the strength to share my story ... We only need to believe in it with all our hearts and take action to make it a reality." Neal previously placed second in a virtual poetry slam based in Toronto, Canada.

Mary Robinson wins Koger Center competition

Also in Columbia, visual artist Mary Robinson was selected winner of "The Project: A 2021 Call for Art" from the Koger Center for the Arts. Robinson is a professor of art and head of printmaking at the University of South Carolina School of Visual Art and Design. As the winner, an exhibition focusing on Robinson’s work, with some of the submissions from other artists, will be held in the Upstairs Gallery at the Koger Center for the Arts beginning May 9, 2022. Says Robinson:

The driving question in my artmaking is: how can I visually present both the euphoria and horror I experience in the 21st Century as we humans savor, destroy, and attempt to mend life on Earth?

Through printmaking I draw, carve, etch, print and layer marks to present my experience of being part of a larger life aggregate. I often cut, tear, smother, tangle, weave, glue and stitch the paper and fabric to reflect the ruptures that occur in that aggregate. My concurrent practices of weaving and dyeing fabric with patterns influence (and are influenced by) my printmaking.

"The Project: A 2021 Call for Art" is the Koger Center’s annual artistic competition that supports the work of visual #SCartists. Each year, one chosen artist will receive a $500 stipend, gallery space, and staff support resulting in a free public display in the Upstairs Gallery of the Koger Center.
[caption id="attachment_47593" align="alignnone" width="400"]Graphic says, "Hey you, we are now hiring" and displays SC Arts Commission logo. Click image for more information.[/caption]

Jason Rapp

Spoken Word Spartanburg competes in Southern Fried Poetry Festival

Poetry joined Moonpies and RC Cola as a hallmark of Southern culture during the annual Southern Fried Poetry Festival, a week-long event open to regional and national poets who compete through slam, or competitive performance poetry. Members of Spoken Word Spartanburg, an arts and activism organization, added their voices to the mix this year, competing in the 23-year-old festival June 2-7 in Little Rock, Arkansas. Marlanda “Sapient Soul” Dekine, Lindsey “Lyla Flower” Stevens, Marcus “Black Phoenix” Turner, Rashad “BlaQ Socrates” Gault, and Derrick “Southern Stylez” Commander represented Spoken Word Spartanburg, performing as individuals and as members of Old Soul, Spartanburg’s slam poetry team. Black Phoenix ranked in the top 12 of more than 200 poets and won first place in one of the side tournaments, the Haiku Slam. Old Soul also had two poems that received perfect scores during the competition. “It’s awesome to be able to represent Spartanburg on a national level, but even more exciting that [Turner] returned home as the Southern Fried Haiku Champion,” said Dekine, director of Spoken Word Spartanburg. “We believe that spoken word poetry is an art form with a healing mechanism. We don’t just write and perform; we change lives with what we do. This is for everybody. It’s an honor to bring our experiences back to our own community.” Dekine hopes to bring much more than personal experience and new relationships with other poetry groups back home. She plans to place a bid to bring Southern Fried Poetry Festival to Spartanburg. Spoken Word Spartanburg is a nonprofit that nurtures the art of spoken word through workshops, performance, community dialogue, and activism. Events include a writing workshop on the second of each month at Chapman Cultural Center, a conversation on race and racism that incorporates the arts on the first Monday of each month at First Presbyterian Church, and an open mic on the first and third Thursday of each month at Klymaxx Lounge. “Everything we do is building activism and bringing awareness to the art form,” Dekine said. “It connects people.” Southern Fried Poetry Festival is the second largest poetry event in the world, serving as an educational opportunity, a showcase of talent, and a tribute to “the creative genius of the South as a spiritual home for artists." This program is supported in part by The Arts Partnership of Greater Spartanburg, its donors, the County and City of Spartanburg and the South Carolina Arts Commission which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the John and Susan Bennett Memorial Arts Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina. Via: Spoken Word Spartanburg