For Immediate Release

Media Contacts: Melanie Mathos / Hannah Nuccio
Lou Hammond & Associates /
(843) 371-1363 / (843) 410-5306


Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art Examines the Impact of Plantation Imagery

Traveling exhibition organized by the Gibbes Museum of Art presents plantation-related images of the American South from the eighteenth century to the present

(February 29, 2008 - Charleston, SC) – The Gibbes Museum of Art has organized a groundbreaking exhibition entitled Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art to offer a comprehensive, interdisciplinary examination of plantation images in the American South.

The exhibition is currently on view at the University of Virginia Art Museum in Charlottesville, VA from January 25 – April 20, 2008, and will then be on view at the Gibbes in Charleston, SC from May 9 - August 3, 2008. Following the Gibbes, the exhibition will travel to the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, GA where it will be on display from August 23 – October 19, 2008.

Todd D. Smith, Executive Director of the Gibbes explains the inspiration for the project, “The mission of the Gibbes is to tell the story of the visual culture of the South and the plantation has been (and still continues to be) a defining characteristic of the history and present state of the region. The museum’s collection includes several important works related to the subject, and we were inspired to lead an effort to unravel the realities and fictions that surround the subject matter.”

Curated by Angela D. Mack, the museum’s Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, the exhibition features over 100 paintings, works on paper, photographs, mixed media and installation works. The three venues each offer a unique installation and presentation of objects and a complete list of objects in the exhibition is available at Through the eyes of a range of artists such as Eastman Johnson, Winslow Homer, William Aiken Walker, Alice Ravenel Huger Smith, John Biggers, Edwin Harleston, Carrie Mae Weems and Kara Walker, Landscape of Slavery examines depictions of plantations, plantation views and related slave imagery in the context of the history of landscape painting in America. “More than a history of the visual imagery related to the plantation, the show invites one to consider the impact that this imagery has had on race relations for three centuries,” says Mack.

A genre predominantly tied to the Southern region of the United States, the plantation view has traditionally received marginal attention in the study of American landscape art. Previous work on the plantation subject has emphasized the debt the genre owes to 18th century British aesthetic theories and styles. In recent years, however, art historians have worked to identify general shifts in plantation iconography that reflect specific historical events. Meanwhile, plantation views have attracted the attention of social historians who have identified the genre as a rich source for exploring issues of wealth, power, race, memory and nostalgia. Landscape of Slavery seeks to bring these current discussions on the topic together for the public’s consideration.

Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. Supporters of the Gibbes exhibition include Gibbes, etc., Charleston Renaissance Gallery, The Henry and Sylvia Yaschik Foundation, The Humanities Council SC, Dr. and Mrs. George W. Williams, Geiss & Son Jewelers, Amelia T. Handigan Interior Design, Hulsey Law Group, Piggly Wiggly and Charleston magazine.

About the Book
Landscape of Slavery: The Plantation in American Art
Edited by Angela D. Mack and Stephen G. Hoffius
(University of South Carolina Press)
Serving as a companion to the exhibition of the same name, Landscape of Slavery draws upon art history and social history as it illustrates the complexities of the American South. Landscape of Slavery undertakes an original study of plantation images from the eighteenth century through the present to unravel the realities and mythology inherent in this complex and often provocative subject.

Through ninety-two full-color plates, sixteen black-and-white illustrations and six thematic essays, the book examines depictions of plantation structures, plantation views and related slave imagery and art in the context of the American landscape tradition, addressing the impact of these works on race relations in the United States. Contributors to the volume are Alexis L. Boylan, Michael D. Harris, Leslie King-Hammond, Angela D. Mack, Maurie D. McInnis, Roberta Sokolitz and John Michael Vlach.

Related Programming
(all occur at the Gibbes unless otherwise noted)

Curator-Led Tours
Friday, May 9 at 1pm and Friday, May 23 at 3pm -- free with museum admission
Angela D. Mack, Gibbes Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs, will lead these insightful tours of the exhibition.

Lunchtime Lecture Series
Select Fridays May through July at 1pm
Local scholars, cultural critics, and conservationists will explore the exhibition from varying perspectives. Free with museum admission.
May 9 - Angela D. Mack, Gibbes Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs
May 16 - Sara Arnold, Gibbes Associate Curator of Collections
May 30 - Stephen G. Hoffius, Co-editor of Landscape of Slavery publication
June 6 - Dr. Simon Lewis, Associate Professor, Department of English, College of Charleston
June 20 - Dr. Bernard Powers, Professor of History and Director of African American
Studies, College of Charleston
July 11 - Dr. Steve Gavel, Independent scholar

Dialogue with the Artists
Wednesday, May 14, 6pm - $5 museum members, students, seniors/$10 non-members
Exhibiting artists Bill Dunlap and Stephen Marc will discuss their work and the exhibition with Angela Mack. Open discussion follows.

Landscape of Slavery: A Critical Conversation
Panel Discussion Followed by Book Signing
Friday, May 23 10am– 11:30am -- $7 museum members, students, seniors/ $12 non-members
All book contributors including Alexis L. Boylan, Michael D. Harris, Leslie King-Hammond, Maurie D. McInnis, Roberta Sokolitz, John Michael Vlach and Stephen G. Hoffius will participate in this discussion moderated by Angela D. Mack.
This event is supported by The Humanities Council of South Carolina and Brunk Auctions.

Film Screening and Benefit: Gone with the Wind at the Terrace Theater on James Island
Friday, June 13 at 6pm -- $25 museum members/ $35 non members
View the classic film Gone with the Wind and enjoy live music and refreshments. Proceeds benefit education and outreach programs at the Gibbes.

Note that during Spoleto (May 23 - June 8), the museum will be open on Mondays and will offer tours daily at 2:30pm.

Established as the Carolina Art Association in 1858, the Gibbes Museum of Art opened its doors to the public in 1905 in historic Charleston, S.C. The Gibbes houses one of the foremost collections of American Art from the 18th century to the present. The Gibbes is currently undergoing major renovations and will reopen in the spring of 2016. The renovated museum will properly showcase its extensive collections and will feature an admission-free ground floor, providing a place to watch artists at work in studios and stroll through a world-class garden.

135 Meeting Street | Charleston, SC | 29401