Archive for the 'Awards' Category

Society 1858 Announces Sonya Clark as the 2014 Winner of the 1858 Prize

Sonya Clark

Artist Sonya Clark

Society 1858, an auxiliary group of the Gibbes Museum of Art, is pleased to announce Sonya Clark as the 2014 winner of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. Awarded annually with a cash prize of $10,000, the 1858 Prize acknowledges an artist whose work demonstrates the highest level of artistic achievement in any media, while contributing to a new understanding of art in the South. This year, over 250 artists from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia submitted applications. Clark is the first female artist to be awarded the 1858 Prize. Her work examines contemporary issues of gender and race through a variety of mediums.

“Sonya Clark is a phenomenal artist whose intellectual rigor and thoughtful approach to materials stands out from the crowd. Her work truly embodies the spirit of the 1858 Prize and its mission to contribute to a new understanding of contemporary southern art,” says Gibbes Museum Curator of Exhibitions, Pam Wall.

Clark holds an MFA (Cranbrook Academy of Art), a BFA (Art Institute of Chicago), and a BA in psychology (Amherst College) and chairs the Department of Craft/Material Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. Her work has been exhibited in over 250 museums and galleries in Europe, Africa, Asia, South America, Australia, and throughout the United States. She uses objects such as cloth, hair, and combs to give voice to the complexity of American identity and history. Simple objects become an interface for dialog that ranges from the vernacular to the political to the poetic.  Her work includes a variety of mediums. In “My Hair Craft Project (Jamilah)” she engages Southern hairdressers to use her body as canvas to re-frame Black hairdressing as art.

Black Hair Flag by Sonya Clark

Black Hair Flag by Sonya Clark

“Given the calibre of the finalists, I am absolutely humbled to be chosen for the 1858 Award. The complexities and the simplicities that drive the content of my work will be amplified by this generous support. I am both buoyed by this endorsement of my past work and eager to delve into the well of the next possibilities. To the folks in Society 1858 at the Gibbes Museum: thank you, thank you, thank you,” says Sonya Clark.

 

1858 Unveiling Party

Sonya Clark with finalist Jim Arendt and his wife (and 7 week old baby!) at the Unveiling Party

Clark came to Charleston for the Unveiling Party on Thursday evening to speak to a sold-out crowd of over 150 attendees at the Vendue. She spoke to Adam Parker, Arts Editor of the Post and Courier and said ” Always I am fueled by curiosity in the ways we are uniquely individual and yet inherently connected.” read the rest of her interview here.

Clark’s work is on view  at Crystal Bridges Museum as part of the State of the Art, Discovering American Art Now exhibition that opened September 13 and runs through January 19, 2015.

Unveiling Party photo by Carolina Photosmith

1858 Prize Finalists

1858 Prize Short List of Finalists

1858 Prize Short List of Finalists

The finalists have been revealed! In June, the Gibbes Museum of Art and Society 1858 announced the 2014 short list for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art. Jim Arendt, Sonya Clark, Andre Leon Gray, Jackson Martin, Jason Mitcham, Damian Stamer, and Stacy Lynn Waddell are the seven finalists for the prize. The winner will be announced on September 18th  at an event hosted by Society 1858.

Launching the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art has been a remarkable journey. Awarded annually with a cash prize of $10,000, the prize acknowledges an artist whose work demonstrates the highest level of artistic achievement in any media, while contributing to a new understanding of art in the South. A little over a year ago,  the executive director of the Gibbes, Angela Mack, came to Society 1858, the museum’s young patron auxiliary group, to see if we were interested in taking over the prize competition that had been established by Mallory and Elizabeth Factor in 2007.

The Society 1858 Board of Directors, led by co-chairs Margaret Furniss and Jamieson Clair, began the process of evaluating how we could rejuvenate and re-launch the prize. The first step was fund-raising, and we worked hard to raise money through sponsorships. We are incredibly thankful for our wonderful sponsors, Wells Fargo, Caviar & Bananas, Maybank Industries, Blackbaud, BoomTown!, Marc and Marnie Chardon, and Ellen and Edwin Harley. Another key initiative was creating a new web presence for the prize, and we partnered with the brilliant team at Blue Ion to launch a fabulous 1858 Prize website. The final step in the planning process was to establish a plan to foster long-term relationships with our prize-winning artists.

In May, at the close of the application process, we were thrilled to have over 250 submissions. The diversity, talent, and creativity of the artists who applied are a tribute to the contemporary art scene throughout the Southeast. Pam Wall, Gibbes curator of exhibitions, led a distinguished panel of judges: Charles Ailstock, Society 1858 Board Member; Jamieson Clair, Society 1858 Board Member; Jennifer Dasal, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the North Carolina Museum of Art; Marilyn Laufer, Director of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University; Frank McCauley, Assistant Director and Curator of the Sumter County Gallery of Art; and John Westmark, artist and 2012 Prize winner to narrow down the finalist to seven. I invite you to learn more about our finalists on our website at 1858prize.org. Additional information can be found on our Facebook and Instagram pages.

The goal of Society 1858 in taking over the prize was not only to support a contemporary artist right here in the Southeast, but also to form partnerships with these artists. We hope to support future installations, exhibits, and events that will introduce the artists to Charleston and the regional art community. For example, John Westmark, the 2012 Prize winner, had an exhibition, John Westmark: Narratives, that showed at the Gibbes through August 3 of this year. Society 1858 helped to sponsor this exhibition and enjoyed a behind-the-scenes tour with John where he spoke of his inspiration in creating the collection. We also have exciting plans to work with the Gibbes to establish an artist in residence program with 1858 Prize winners.

The Fireflies by John Westmark

The Fireflies by John Westmark

We have been honored by some of the feedback we have received from past and current finalists and winners about the impact the prize has had on their careers. John Westmark says winning the prize in 2012 has validated his work: “Without opportunities and acknowledgements, an artist runs the risk of toiling away in relative obscurity.” John has gone on to win other juried prizes and have exhibitions around the country. It has been an honor to get to know him and his beautiful work and to have helped contribute in even a small way to his tremendous success.

Mark your calendars! I invite you to join us when we announce the winner of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art on September 18 at the Vendue. It’s no secret that Society 1858 likes to celebrate, and the prize announcement provides just such an occasion. We are thrilled to report that the newly renovated Vendue: Charleston’s Art Hotel will be hosting this celebration in honor of the 2014 winner, with exciting opportunities to get to know this special artist.

Join us Thursday, September 18, from 7-9pm
19 Vendue Range
$15 1858 Members, $20 Non-Members
For more information and to purchase tickets please visit gibbesmuseum.org/events or call 843.722.2706 x21

Check out my blog about the prize on Charleston Grit!

Amy Coy, Society 1858 President and Guest Blogger

The 1858 Prize and One Artist’s Perspective

The Fireflies by John Westmark

The Fireflies by John Westmark

The 1858 Prize for Contemporary Art, formally the Factor Prize, is a beacon of light in what can feel like the dark shoals of the philanthropic art world. In 2012, I was fortunate to win the prize and reap the rewards of a cash infusion into my studio practice. The money was great while it lasted, but far greater was the shot of adrenaline to an immeasurable nod of validation.

Over the years, I’ve discussed the legitimacy of art awards in general, and the 1858 Prize in particular, with many colleagues and other artists who have asked my opinion. While I can’t speak to the legitimacy of all the myriad organizations that promote awards for artists, I can say without reservation that the 1858 Prize is the real thing in an era where “the real thing” is a complicated definition. The charge of the 1858 Prize is simple enough: to recognize and help artists who work in, or are from, the American South; and whose work contributes to a new understanding of the South. Two very important aspects of the prize are: one, the artist’s work does not need to reference the South or Southern subjects explicitly; and secondly, the prize is open to any media. All too often, calls to artists are grouped in rigid categories by medium, effectively fragmenting or disallowing outstanding work that bridges multiple disciplines. This is a pluralist time for artists, where material boundaries no longer matter. What the good people at the 1858 Prize are saying is that they are not only open to any form of expression – they are actively seeking it out.

The diverse mix of individuals and invested parties that make the arts an unrivaled ecosystem of expression benefit greatly from arbiters like the Gibbes Museum of Art and the 1858 Prize. So, if you’re an artist from the American South, I urge you to apply to this opportunity; if you’re a patron of the arts, I urge you to get involved with this organization; and if you’re a fan of the arts, I urge you to follow and revel in the discoveries of this organization.

John Westmark, artist and guest blogger

 

John Westmark and family

2012 Prize winner John Westmark with his family at the opening reception of his solo exhibition

John Westmark’s work is currently on exhibit at the Gibbes Museum of Art. Westmark’s work is exhibited widely and is held in collection worldwide. He holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from the University of Florida. In 2012, he received the Factor Prize for Southern Art, awarded by the Gibbes Museum. Westmark lives and works in Gainesville, Florida, with his wife and two daughters – the true inspiration behind his work.

The Gibbes Museum of Art and Society 1858 have announced the 2014 Short List of finalists
for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art.

1858 Prize Short List of Finalists

The seven artists selected are Jim Arendt, Sonya Clark, Andre Leon Gray, Jackson Martin, Jason Mitcham, Damian Stamer, and Stacy Lynn Waddell. The artists were selected by a distinguished panel of judges including Charles Ailstock, Society 1858 Board Member; Jamieson Clair, Society 1858 Board Member; Jennifer Dasal, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the North Carolina Museum of Art; Marilyn Laufer, Director of the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University; Frank McCauley, Assistant Director and Curator of the Sumter County Gallery of Art; Pam Wall, Curator of Exhibition at the Gibbes Museum of Art; and John Westmark, artist and 2012 Prize winner.

The winner of the 1858 Prize will be announced on September 18 during an event hosted by Society 1858 and the Gibbes Museum of Art. Artists may submit applications for the 2015 1858 Prize January 1, 2015.

 

 

Mickey Bakst, 2014 James S. Gibbes Philanthropy Award Winner

Mickey Bakst

Angela Mack presenting Mickey Bakst with the 2014 James Shoolbred Gibbes Philanthropy Award at the Annual Meeting.

On Monday, May 19, the Gibbes Museum of Art presented Mickey Bakst with the 2014 James Shoolbred Gibbes Philanthropy Award at the museum’s Annual Meeting Celebration. Mickey has long been a supporter of the Gibbes, and has contributed his time, talents, connections, and energy into making the Street Party one of Charleston’s most sought-after events. Mickey is known for his graciousness, generosity, and ability to connect people, and these traits directly translate to the complex job of coordinating Charleston’s top restaurants and beverage providers for this fundraising event. “We are so grateful to have Mickey Bakst on our side. We have just wrapped up another successful Street Party, and couldn’t have done it without his support,” says Executive Director Angela Mack.

James Shoolbred Gibbes

A portrait of James Shoolbred Gibbes

James S. Gibbes Philanthropy Award – Each year the Board and staff of the CAA bestows on an individual or group the James S. Gibbes Philanthropy Award. Gibbes was deeply devoted to the betterment of Charleston’s young creative minds in the aftermath of Reconstruction. Through his 1885 bequest of $100K, which in today’s dollars is valued at $2.5M, Gibbes launched what we know today as the Gibbes Museum of Art.  His generosity and vision set the state for the visual arts in Charleston by providing the funds to build the oldest art museum in the South.

Mickey Bakst has been a staunch proponent of Charleston charities since moving to the Holy City in October 2004. A 40-year food and beverage veteran, Bakst is currently General Manager of Charleston Grill at Charleston Place Hotel. In his spare time, Bakst can be found devoting his energy to a variety of Lowcountry initiatives. His philanthropic efforts include Chefs Across America in 2002, Benefit for Katrina in 2005, and Dine for Nine in 2007. Chefs Across America followed the tragedy of 9/11 and in this event, Mickey hosted dinners in nine cities across the country with 40 of the nation’s top culinary stars. The Dine for Nine in 2007 raised more than 500,000 for the fallen firefighters’ families of the Sofa Super Store fire. When Crisis Ministries had to close down their food service one day a week, Bakst stepped in, forming a coalition to provide the meals that the shelter needed. One day a week, every year, a different area restaurant takes over the meal service and feeds more than 400 people. Three years later, Feed the Need has gone national, launching in Detroit, MI and Savannah, GA. Mickey has been married to the love of his life, Ellen, since 2007.

Amy Mercer, Marketing and Communications Manager

Prize Winners

As submissions pour in for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art (formerly named the Factor Prize), I’ve been thinking about the individual artists from across the southeast who are submitting their work for review. Before I came on board as the marketing manager of the Gibbes Museum, I worked from home as a freelance writer and in that role I frequently submitted my work to various writing prizes. It was hard at first, getting my hopes up and being let down, but eventually the submission process became easier and I won a small prize from a publication in my home-state of Vermont. Winning was thrilling, and even though I had been writing since childhood, the prize made me feel like a “real writer.” Winning gave me the confidence to go to graduate school to earn my MFA, and I can even credit that small prize with the publication of my first book. The experience gave me the recognition and confidence to continue to pursue my writing.

Now that I am working on the other side of a prize, I’ve been curious to know whether my experience was unique or universal. I wanted to know if winning the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art affected the five artists in a similar manner. Did the prize give these artists the confidence to dig deeper in their careers? Did wining the prize help them define themselves as “real artists”? Seeking answers to these questions, I reached out to past winners to ask them to share how winning the prize has affected their career. Below you will read the answers.

Jeff Whetstone is the 2008 winner and says,

“Winning the Factor Prize in 2008 opened several new possibilities in my career. I was able to expand my approach to portraying and describing the Southern landscape and its people by moving into new mediums. I produced two short films with support of the Factor Prize that were shown at the Moving Image Art Fair and at a solo exhibition in New York. Without the funding and the broader support of the Gibbes Museum this work would have never been a reality.”

Untitled from the Passage on the Underground Railroad

Untitled from the Passage on the Underground Railroad, by Stephen Marc.

The 2009 winner, Stephen Marc, shared,

“Two of the most significant and memorable events in my life happened in the South. The first was in 1976, while running track for Pomona College when the NAIA (National Athletic Intercollegiate Association) national championship meet was held at Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, AR. I became an NAIA All American, placing 2nd in the 110 meter High Hurdles. The second event was receiving this prize.”

Tobacco Blues by Radcliffe Bailey

Tobacco Blues by Radcliffe Bailey, 2010 Winner.

Radcliffe Bailey is the 2010 winner and a frequent traveler who is difficult to pin down! Bailey’s work has gained recognition in the last two years and he is best known for his mixed media works and site-specific installations that explore his personal background and the history of African Americans. Bailey’s work is included in the collections of many prestigious organizations including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the High Museum of Art, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Patrick Dougherty won the Prize in 2011. He replied,

“After 30 years of working day-in and day-out as a sculptor, I was delighted to receive the call with the news that I had been selected for the 2011 Factor Prize. I was working on a new sapling sculpture in Dayton, Ohio, when the call came and I nearly fell off the scaffolding in surprise. (…) This journey has allowed me access to a variety of organizations, an ever-changing public, and a portal to the world of ideas. Thank you for the Factor Prize and all the opportunities that it will bring.”

For John Westmark, winning the Prize was a real boost on many levels. Receiving critical acclaim has helped validate his work and has served as great personal motivation to continue pursuing his art with passion. Westmark explains, “Without opportunities and acknowledgements such as the Factor Prize, an artist runs the risk of toiling away in relative obscurity.”

John Westmark and family

2012 Prize winner John Westmark with his family at the opening reception of his solo exhibition, Narratives, at the Gibbes Museum of Art.

Westmark’s success has come full circle and on April 4, 2014, we opened a solo exhibition of his latest work titled John Westmark: Narratives. This is the first time his work is being exhibited in a museum setting and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. In Southern Glossary, Brad Rhines writes “Some of the most evocative paintings from this series show women on the attack, often organized in battle formations and carrying rifles or flags. The scenes are reminiscent of images from the Civil War or the American Revolution, iconic depictions of revolt. The painting Exaltation riffs on the theme of women at war, but the moment captured is more stylized.” In an article entitled “Painting feminism: Before Gibbes Museum starts renovations, a dynamic exhibit of works by John Westmark” the Post & Courier Arts Writer Adam Parker writes, “The judges were especially impressed with Westmark’s emphasis on narrative, which is in line with Southern storytelling, according to museum director Angela Mack.”

Winning the Prize has brought attention to these five artists’ work, which is exactly the point. The $10,000 cash award helps support an artist’s career, but the recognition is likely more important. I was not surprised to discover in my research that winning a prize is equally significant for writers and artists alike!

Amy Mercer, Marketing and Communications Manager, Gibbes Museum of Art

Submissions for the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art are being accepted through May 28, 2014. To submit a portfolio for consideration, please visit 1858Prize.org.

The Spirit of Giving

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. —Margaret Mead

Students at Mt. Zion Elementary enjoy the Art to Go program.

Students at Mt. Zion Elementary enjoy the Art to Go program, funded by contributions to the Gibbes Museum's educational programming.

In early November, I was fortunate enough to attend the Lowcountry Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals annual Philanthropy Day Luncheon. Over the years I have been to the luncheon, but on this particular day, I was overwhelmed by the “spirit of giving” that filled the room. Philanthropists, non-profit professionals, corporate sponsors, and foundations all came together to celebrate giving within the tri-county community as part of National Philanthropy Week. Events like these always remind me of why I do what I do. Every single person in that room believes passionately in the cause or mission of an organization. Most, in fact, support numerous causes. Yet, in that setting, we were all connected as we honored Marion and Wayland Cato, Trident United Way, General Dynamics, and Mr. and Mrs. Charles T. Cole Jr. for their wonderful philanthropic support. We learned from Blackbaud’s CEO Marc Chardon about examining the ways we engage with our donors. As Marc stated, donors today want to give more than money, they want a personal experience created through the give and take of information; they want to be part of the cause of the organization whether it be through advocating or volunteering.

Wayland and Marion Cato, and Gibbes Board Member Helen Pratt-Thomas, at the Gibbes Museum.

Marion and Wayland Cato, and Gibbes Board Member Helen Pratt-Thomas, at the Gibbes Museum. Photo by Carolina Photosmith.

We recognize that it is an uncertain time for non-profits as we face the near future and the possibility of potential charitable giving caps. While Americans do not make gifts for tax reasons only, incentives do encourage more giving. The true beneficiaries of these donations are not the generous Americans who make the gifts, but all citizens whose local communities, nation, and world are made better through the work of charitable organizations.

Marnie and Marc Chardon at the Gibbes Museum.

Marnie and Marc Chardon enjoyed the Art on Paper Fair at the museum this fall. Photo by MCG Photography.

As a new member of the Gibbes’ staff, I look forward to getting to know all of our members and supporters. Through your generosity, I am reminded daily of the importance of philanthropy. On my end, I will heed Marc’s advice to listen to you and to continually engage you so as to understand your changing needs and interests in relation to the work of the Gibbes. Additionally, I hope that you will continue to work on behalf of the Gibbes through your time, talent, treasure, and advocacy. Thank you for all that you do to support the Gibbes. Our organization is made better each day because of you. Happy Holidays!

Jennifer Ross, Major Gifts and Grants Consultant, Gibbes Museum of Art

Jen Ross and Donovan

Jen Ross and singer/songwriter Donovan. Photo by John Cusatis.

Art Connections, Collaborations, and Community: 2012 Mary Whyte Art Educator Award

Detail from a mechanical drawing shows the design of a mechanical arm.

Detail from a mechanical drawing shows the design of a mechanical arm.

As an art educator, one of my goals is to help students identify and develop the necessary skills for a rewarding and productive career that will benefit them, their community, and the world in general. I am often asked where art fits into this endeavor. The world is changing so fast and our definition and understanding of the purpose of art has evolved tremendously. Art is so much more than a pretty picture on the wall. The definition of an artist is broader. A favorite quote of mine from Transformation of Nature in Art (1934) by the philosopher Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1877–1947) reads “The artist is not a special kind of man, but every man is a special kind of artist.” It speaks to my belief that we all have access to creativity within. Research shows that art-making activities —which use the right side of the brain—support and foster creativity, which is essential to innovation. Visual design and creative thinking are incorporated into all careers—from scientists to carpenters and homemakers to engineers. Companies want workers who can brainstorm, problem-solve, collaborate, contribute, and communicate new ideas. In the field of education, art becomes more powerful when it is used in conjunction with other subjects. I feel like part of my purpose is not only to educate my students, but also to teach the people around me about the impact of art on their lives.

This image, entitled Light Art, shows a student experimenting with time exposure in photography.

This image, entitled Light Art, shows a student experimenting with time exposure in photography.

The project I presented for the Mary Whyte Art Educator Award is based on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics)—one of latest movements/initiatives in education based on hands-on, reality-centered, interdisciplinary collaboration. Working with the engineering teacher, I developed a unit for a design team consisting of visual art and engineering students. The cross-curricular project involved engineering, computer technology, industrial design, commercial art, innovative thinking, competition, teamwork, and creativity.

The art students came up with an invention and drew it from different angles (incorporating spatial intelligence). They wrote a description of the object (incorporating literacy and writing) and identified the measurements (involving math skills). The designs were then sent to the engineering class who selected the most appropriate designs for their task. The engineering students transformed the sketches into CAD (computer-aided design) digital images using a program called Inventor. Engineering students were encouraged to communicate with the artists on specifications and clarification through email. Engineering students created a PowerPoint to present to the student teams and a potential client/engineering team. Some of the digital designs could be printed on the school’s 3-D printer—Amazing!

A digital image of the coffee table inspired by the visual arts student’s sketch and was created by an engineering student using the program Inventor.

A digital image of the coffee table inspired by the visual arts student’s sketch.

Educators are discovering the power of the arts in all subject areas. My project’s goal was to create, incorporate, and infuse multi-disciplinary units that incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering and Math into the Arts and academic subjects. People have realized that life is not divided into subjects but involves integration, collaboration and connections in order to make something “big” happen. Art focuses on Benjamin Bloom’s highest intelligence trait: creativity. Without creative minds scientists would not take the risks to discover; engineers would not have anything to create; and just think of all the “creative” math that we use each day. Art education involves not only drafting, composition, color-theory and 3-D modeling—art teachers employ math, literacy, science, history, design, as well as social and emotional learning.

Computer Geek was created by a sculpture student using machines and parts.

Computer Geek was created by a sculpture student using machines and parts.

As I plan my day-to-day lessons, I incorporate science activities such as sketching from nature and the chemistry of paints and clay. We explore technology in our use of Photoshop for photography sessions, and we research artists and images on the classroom Smart board. My classes study design elements, environmental aesthetics, and architecture connected to engineering. Art instruction includes mathematics by utilizing geometric shapes, perspective, and the Golden Ratio in compositions. I try to impress upon my students the need to be innovative as they pursue fields about which they are passionate. I believe that when people realize the power of the arts and how all things connect in life, the arts will become more relevant, appreciated, and supported.

In order to promote these ideas to my peers, I designed three graduate classes that provide opportunities for teachers to share ideas and teaching strategies that integrate the arts into other subjects. I will also be teaching a graduate painting class in the fall sponsored by the Berkeley County School District and Charleston Southern University. The class, titled Teachers as Artists: Community, Collaboration, Connections, is a studio experience emphasizing STEAM connection. I’ve discovered that when people collaborate—their ideas become larger and their projects more powerful.

iPod Addict was created by an Advanced Placement Studio Art student illustrating the concept of our addictions to technology.

iPod Addict was created by an Advanced Placement Studio Art student illustrating the concept of our addictions to technology.

I invite YOU to reflect on how your job requires creativity and connects to the arts, and encourage you to become aware, teach your children, get involved in your school’s STEAM programs, and come visit my graduate class this fall to make more connections. Please share your thoughts and suggestions in the comment field below on how we can ALL make the arts stronger.

Robin Boston, 2012 Mary Whyte Award Winner, art educator/Artist, and guest blogger

Rural Mural Unveilings in McClellanville, SC

Mayor Joseph RIley with student artists

Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley stands with student artists in front of a mosaic mural.

On Thursday, May 26th, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, Awendaw Mayor Sam Robinson, and McClellanville Mayor Rutledge Leland helped to unveil two murals created as part of the Rural Murals project at Lincoln Middle-High School. The event started at the Middle-High School and ended at the Arts Center with a steel drum band and a student art exhibition. Generous comments were made by all three Mayors and Dr. Commodore, the middle-high school principal. Our school and community could not ask for better advocates for the arts in education.

McClellanville Mayor Rutledge Leland, Dr. Yvonne Commodore, principal of Lincoln Middle-High School, Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley, and Awendaw Mayor Sam Robinson

McClellanville Mayor Rutledge Leland, Dr. Yvonne Commodore, principal of Lincoln Middle-High School, Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley, and Awendaw Mayor Sam Robinson

Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley with steel drum band at the Rural Murals unveiling ceremony.

Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley with the steel drum band at the Rural Murals unveiling ceremony.

On May 2nd, 2011, I was honored to receive the Mary Whyte Art Educator Award which recognizes a high school visual art teacher in the Berkeley, Charleston, and Dorchester school districts who has demonstrated superior commitment to their students and to their craft. The recognition and support that have resulted from the Rural Murals Projects have inspired me to continue my work in public art to service both our community and educational institutions. I started the project because I wanted my students to feel a sense of belonging to a larger art community, to examine the artist’s role in society, and to consider a career in art to be a valid and significant contribution to the preservation of our culture. As their teacher, I feel it is my obligation to give students experiences that allow them to develop skills and conceptual understandings so they can compete with students who have access to more elaborate art programs. I also want them to realize that money, or rather the lack thereof, is not a valid excuse not to create. I always tell my students, “Artists are born to create and so we do so with whatever we have on hand, or we find a way to get it. Look back in history… artists reflect society, tell stories, and preserve culture. You must do your part.”

Annie Purvis (center) with artists Mary Whyte and Smith Coleman.

2011 Mary Whyte Award recipient Annie Purvis (center) with artists Mary Whyte and Smith Coleman.

Artists in front of a mosaic mural at the Lincoln Middle-High School.

Artists in front of a mosaic mural at the Lincoln Middle-High School.

With just a dream and vision we embarked on what has become a significant experience for not only my students and me, but also the local and extended arts communities. I pitched the idea to my principal Dr. Yvonne Commodore, got approval from the district, made cold calls, collected materials, created lesson plans, and began learning with my students how to design a mosaic tile mural from our volunteer artist John Mark Gill. Our first mural took about 15 weeks and was unveiled May 16, 2010. Almost immediately we began planning a second mural for the school. In August, Ms. Bernadette Humphrey, director of the McClellanville Arts Center, asked me if we would consider painting an exterior mural on the Arts Center building in the center of town. My first thought was, “a free 600 square foot canvas!”  More importantly though, I knew this project would bridge the school arts program with the community arts. I met with my students and we accepted the challenge. The mural design was created by Aaron Jenkins, Lincoln’s first AP Studio Art student. Together with Jessica Cash, Tichina Simmons, and Quentin McCormick, we attended both the McClellanville Town Council Board and Architectural Review Board meetings to present the designs for approval. The mural was painted by students, with the help and guidance of the volunteer artists.

Student mixing paint

A Lincoln Middle-High School student mixes paint for the McClellanville Arts Center mural.

McClellanville Arts Center Mural

McClellanville Arts Center Mural

This spring, we worked on two landscape murals simultaneously and did not spend a dime. We collected material donations worth almost $70,000—reinforcing the idea that the arts matter to our communities and that to find support all you have to do is ask. Artist volunteers and business partners contributed to the Rural Murals project. Business sponsors Mr. Mark Campbell of Ameri-Tile Mount Pleasant, Mr. Fred Dollop of Bonitz Tile Wando, and Lowes of Mount Pleasant donated all the materials for the murals. My business, Annie Purvis Studios, also sponsored a portion of the project. Mr. John Mark Gill was the lead mosaic tile artist and Mr. Dorian Padilla, LMHS Spanish teacher, and I served as volunteer artists. The Communities In Schools coordinator, Ms. Leondra Stoney, worked with me to publicize the unveiling and invite local officials to the event. Through this project, I believe we demonstrated that if an artist wants to do something there is no limit to what can be achieved. It is my hope that these children, their families, and the community have come to see how significant the arts are in our schools.

Annie Purvis at work on a mosaic mural

Annie Purvis at work on a mosaic mural.

The Rural Murals Project met all six state and national art standards and integrated math, social studies, physical science. Based on artist interviews and on-site job experiences, students produced an authentic writing piece equivalent to senior projects prescribed by High Schools That Work literacy recommendations. We hope to publish the students’ papers along with the images of this project next year, and donate a copy to the McClellanville Library and the Arts Center. More significant to me is that my students know I have great confidence in them. I expect the best and they achieve it, every time!

After nine years teaching, I have realized that students in rural schools are at risk because they feel isolated and they require educational programs designed to meet their special needs. Arts education programs can meet learners on an individual level; elevating them, instilling confidence, and promoting self-directed learning. Educators are faced with limited funding for the arts, but can reach out and work within the local and extended arts community to provide opportunities that nurture and develop future artists and art appreciators. In my recent experience, our involvement with volunteers, business partners, and the local community brought out a deep appreciation for my students’ passion and creative expression. This project is exemplar of the arts impact in rural areas  and I witnessed it heal, change perceptions, and teach tolerance and compassion in our community. I am passionate about what we have achieved and I feel honored that I have been able to work with such beautiful and talented individuals along the way. The quote “It takes a village” has never meant more to me than it does right now. I have seen first-hand a village come together and support the young artists of Lincoln Middle-High School and I am so grateful.

—Annie Purvis, Lincoln Middle-High School Art Teacher and 2011 winner of the Mary Whyte Art Educator Award

Students show off the mosaic mural at Lincoln Middle-High School.

Students show off the mosaic mural at Lincoln Middle-High School.

For more information regarding future rural mural plans please contact Annie Purvis at Lincoln Middle-High School via email Annie_Norman@charleston.k12.sc.us or (843) 887-3244. Lincoln Middle-High School Gifted & Talented Student Artists and first year AP Studio Art student artwork is on exhibit at the McClellanville Arts Center.

Patrick Dougherty: 2011 Factor Prize Winner

Portrait of Patrick Dougherty with Just for Looks, 2006

Portrait of Patrick Dougherty with Just for Looks, 2006

The Gibbes recently celebrated another great year of the Factor Prize for Southern Art by naming Patrick Dougherty the 2011 winner. A sculptor from North Carolina, Dougherty creates site-specific installations from twigs and branches woven together and held in place by tension. His work is fun and whimsical and awe-inspiring. And though Dougherty is a serious artist, his work is a breath of fresh air reminding us that art doesn’t always have to be serious. It can be really fun too.

   Here’s Looking At You, 2009   Ain’t Misbehavin’, 2010    Uff Da Palace, 2010

Dougherty is a wonderful representative of the Factor Prize because his sculptures exemplify the high quality of work being created by southern artists. You don’t have to go to New York or LA to see great contemporary art—it is being created by southern artists throughout the region and beyond. This year’s stellar short list of finalists is certainly a testament to that fact.

With my job as Curator of Exhibitions, there is always something new and exciting on the horizon, but I have to admit that the Factor Prize is one of the most exciting. Calling the winning artist to deliver the news is hands down the best phone call I make all year. Each Factor Prize winner has been quite honored and humbled to be recognized for their life’s work. And receiving $10,000 is a pretty exciting bonus. After learning he had won the Factor Prize, Dougherty shared the following thoughts:

After 30 years of working day-in and day-out as a sculptor, I was delighted to receive the news that I had been selected for this year’s Factor Prize. I was working on a new sapling sculpture in Dayton, Ohio, when the call came and I nearly fell off the scaffolding in surprise. I was reminded of an earlier call in 1986 from the North Carolina Arts Council which provided the much needed funds to buy a used truck and trailer which subsequently hauled saplings from my neighbor’s farm in Efland, North Carolina, to the World Trade Center in New York City and many other locations up and down the east coast—this was the beginning of a fruitful career in the arts.

I have enjoyed traveling and building a new work in one community after another. This journey has allowed me access to a variety of organizations, an ever-changing public, and a portal to the world of ideas. Thank you for the Factor Prize and all the opportunities that it will bring.

And the Gibbes extends a huge thank you to benefactors Elizabeth and Mallory Factor, whose vision created the Factor Prize in 2007. Their ongoing support has allowed the Factor Prize to grow and bring recognition to the great diversity of art being created by southern artists today.

Pam Wall, Curator of Exhibitions, Gibbes Museum of Art

Back to School Tools at the Gibbes

Students on a guided tour discuss the painting "April," by Childe Hassam.
Students on a guided tour discuss the painting April, by Childe Hassam.

School Year 2010–2011 is here! Most teachers and students return to their classrooms the week of August 16th for another year of enlightenment. The Gibbes Museum is excited, as always, to be a part of this learning process. There are many different ways schools can utilize the Gibbes’ resources to enhance their curriculum. My role, as Associate Curator of Education, is to plan programs that help our audience enjoy the museum and learn about art history. Let me share some insider tips on how to make the most of the Gibbes.

On www.gibbesmuseum.org, we provide a wealth of information in our Learn section. First, look over our tour information. We have guided tours for preschool through 12th grade classes that are aligned with the S.C. Learning Standards. And, there is always the option for a teacher to lead their own self-guided tour. We also bring art into the schools with the Gibbes Art to Go program. Through Gibbes Art to Go, any school or organization can submit a request for a teaching artist to lead a hands-on project in their school. Proposal forms can be downloaded online.

Teachers have their very own area on our website—Just for Educators—where they can build their own gallery of images using our collection and download our Educator’s Guide. We provide a bound copy of the guide to every teacher that brings their class for a tour, and it can also be mailed out or picked up at the museum. The Educator’s Guide is a great way for teachers to explore our collection before, after, or in place of a visit.  Of course we hope it will not be in place of a visit, but we know not every teacher will be able to visit the Gibbes this school year. Contact me at rsailor@gibbesmuseum.org to request a guide. In addition to teaching tools, information about the Mary Whyte Art Educator Award is also available in Just for Educators. The annual award recognizes a high school art teacher in the tri-county Charleston area who has demonstrated superior commitment to their students and to their craft. I encourage you to nominate yourself or a deserving art educator today!

One of the final stops on the website under Learn is the Gibbes Interactions features. Select a signature work of art from the Gibbes collection, and enjoy an in-depth exploration of the artists, subjects, and styles that have shaped the art of Charleston and the south. You can display Interactions on your Smart Board and have fun!

Remember, we are your visual arts museum. Come for a visit whether it is in-person or virtually. Welcome Back to School!

Rebecca Sailor, Associate Curator of Education, Gibbes Museum of Art

Above: Photo by Scott Henderson

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