Watercolor artist Mary Whyte’s new book celebrates Gullah culture

Watercolor artist Mary Whyte‘s new publication, “Down Bohicket Road,” is inspired by the Gullah culture of Coastal South Carolina. The book includes two decades of watercolors depicting a group of Gullah women of Johns Island, S.C., and their stories. In the early 1990s, in a remote corner of the South, Whyte first met Alfreda LaBoard and her devoted group of seniors who gathered weekly to make quilts, study the Bible and socialize in a small rural church on Bohicket Road. Descendants of Lowcountry slaves, these longtime island residents influenced Whyte’s life and art in astonishing and unexpected ways.

Mary Whyte

Whyte soon began a series of watercolors depicting these women, honoring their lives and their dedication to family and faith. “Alfreda’s World,” a collection of Whyte’s detailed watercolors and poignant recollections of the women at the senior center, was published a decade later, drawing attention and support from the community to the small church on Bohicket Road.

“Down Bohicket Road” continues the story of Whyte’s relationship with these extraordinary women, following the passing of Alfreda, against the backdrop of the ongoing commercial development of Johns Island. For Whyte, the heart of this community remains in the simple homes clustered along Bohicket Road, in the island’s winding tidal creeks, and in a small church where 18 hardscrabble women gather in fellowship each week. In her book, Whyte illustrates that both watercolors and friendships can be the unpredictable results of an abundance of blessings. As shared through touching words and vibrant paintings, “Down Bohicket Road” celebrates a unique way of coastal life and a remarkable friendship that transcends all barriers—even death itself—in praise of the unifying power of art.

“Down Bohicket Road” is available through the University of South Carolina Press. All royalties from book sales benefit the Hebron Saint Francis Senior Center on Johns Island.

Book Signing Schedule
Some events require ticket purchases and advance registration. Contact the venue for more details.

December 4
Talk and Book Signing
5:30 p.m.
The Florence Library, Florence
(843) 413-7064 or (843) 413-7065

December 6
Talk and Book Signing
Noon until 1 p.m.
Center for the Book
S.C. State Library, Columbia
(803) 734-8666

December 6
Book Signing
5:30 – 7 p.m.
Books on Broad, Camden
(803) 713-7323

December 7
Talk and Book Signing
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Coastal Discovery Museum, Hilton Head
(843) 689-6767

December 11
Luncheon and Book Signing
Blue Bicycle Books, Charleston
(843) 722-2666

December 14
Luncheon and Book Signing
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Litchfield Books, Pawleys Island
(843) 237-8138

December 14
Cocktails and Book Signing
6 – 8 p.m.
Coleman Fine Art, Charleston
(843) 853-7000

December 18
Luncheon and Book Signing
Noon – 2 p.m.
The Lazy Goat, Greenville
Sponsored by Fiction Addiction
(864) 675-0540

About Mary Whyte
Watercolor artist Mary Whyte is a teacher and author whose figurative paintings have earned national recognition. A resident of Johns Island, S.C., Whyte garners much of her inspiration from the Gullah descendents of coastal Carolina slaves who number among her most prominent subjects. Her portraits are included in numerous corporate, private and university collections, as well as in the permanent collections of South Carolina’s Greenville County Museum of Art and the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston. Her paintings have been featured in numerous publications, including International Artist, Artist, American Artist, Watercolor and American Art Collector. Her work can be found at Coleman Fine Art in Charleston.

Via: Mary Whyte and USC Press