For Immediate Release

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


Special Events Engage Visitors with New Exhibition

Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art

August 26, 2008 - Charleston, SC– In conjunction with the upcoming special exhibition Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art, many special events have been planned throughout Charleston for the three-month run of the exhibition from August 29, 2008 – November 30, 2008. The exhibition was organized by the Museum for African Art, New York, in cooperation with the Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture at the College of Charleston, the McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina, and the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival Association.

Through the story of the beautiful coiled basket, Grass Roots revisits the history of the southeastern United States and demonstrates the enduring contribution of African people and culture to American life. Featuring over two hundred objects, including baskets made in Africa and the American South, African sculptures, and paintings from the Charleston Renaissance period, the exhibition traces the history of the coiled basket on two continents and shows how a simple farm tool once used for processing rice has become a work of art and an important symbol of African-American identity.

Special Grass Roots Programs
Programs occur at the Gibbes unless noted otherwise.

A Historian’s Perspective on Grass Roots
Wednesday, Sept. 3, 6pm
Dr. Peter Wood, Professor of History at Duke University, explores the cultural and historical significance of sweetgrass baskets in the South and their West African roots. Free for museum members, $10 non-members. Non-members can order tickets online

Grass Roots Opening Party at the Gibbes
Thursday, Sept. 4, 7pm
Tour the exhibition and enjoy live music, cocktails and Lowcountry hors d’oeuvres in the beautiful Gibbes courtyard.
$25 for museum members, $50 non-members. Click here to purchase tickets

Junior League of Charleston Community Day
Saturday, Sept. 6, 10am – 3pm
Activities will include sweetgrass basket workshops for adults and children (advanced registration required that morning), hands-on workshops, performances and culinary presentations. Free.

Grass Roots Lunchtime Lecture Series at the Gibbes
Fridays at 1pm
Join local scholars and cultural critics as they explore the exhibition from varying perspectives.
Sept. 12 with Angela Mack, Gibbes Museum of Art
Oct. 24 with Leila Potts Campbell, Avery Research Center
Nov. 7 with Fath Davis Ruffins, Smithsonian Institution
Nov. 21 with Dr. Dale Rosengarten, College of Charleston
Free with admission (members admitted free).

"Regulated Wild” Sweetgrass Panel Discussion
Organized by the Carolina Lowcountry and Atlantic World (CLAW) program and chaired by exhibition Co-Curator Dale Rosengarten, the panel will include Thomasena Stokes-Marshall (Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Festival Association), Dr. Danny J. Gustafson (Professor of Biology at the Citadel), Karl Ohlandt (Spring Island Trust) and Nakia Wigfall (basket maker).
Thursday, Oct. 2, 7:30pm
Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. Free. For more information call 843-953-1920 or click here

"Grass Roots: Gullah, Culture, Survivals” Film Festival
A series of films about the art of Lowcountry basketry and challenges that Gullah communities face today.
Friday, Oct. 24, 6pm
Saturday, Oct. 25, 6pm
Saturday, Nov. 1, 6pm
Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture. Free. For more information call 843.953.7609 or click here

"The Paradox of Preservation: Gullah Language, Culture, and Imagery”
Slide lecture by Fath Davis Ruffins, Smithsonian Institution
Thursday, Nov. 6, 6pm
Marlene & Nathan Addlestone Library, College of Charleston, Room 227. Free.
For more information call 953-5530
Or click here

Edible Arts: A Lowcountry Cooking Experience
Saturday, November 15th, 9am – 2pm @ the Art Institute of Charleston (24 N. Market Street)
Celebrate Lowcountry cuisine with the Gibbes Museum of Art and the Art Institute of Charleston in this one-day cooking experience that will teach you to prepare Lowcountry favorites with flair. Menu items include roast duck, greens, sweet potatoes, and pecan pie. End the day with a communal meal where you can taste the fruits of your labor. Prepare to impress family and friends this Thanksgiving! All participants will receive printed recipes, an Art Institute of Charleston apron, and a pass for complimentary admission to the Gibbes Museum of Art.
Cost: $75 museum members/$85 non-members
To register or for more information call 843-722-2706 ext. 41 or e-mail

Exhibition Sponsors
Grass Roots is supported by funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Getty Foundation (for the exhibition publication), the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and the MetLife Foundation. Additional funding for video components of the exhibition and a 30-minute documentary film has been provided by The Henry and Sylvia Yaschik Foundation, the South Carolina Humanities Council and the South Carolina Arts Commission. Additional support for the Gibbes is provided by the volunteer organization Gibbes, etc, The Wachovia Foundation and media sponsor Charleston Gateway magazine.

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