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Jeff Whetstone: Post-Pleistocene Exhibition Opens April 3

Factor Prize Winner Featured in Solo Exhibition

(January 12, 2009 - Charleston, South Carolina) – The photographs of North Carolina artist Jeff Whetstone will be on view in the exhibition Jeff Whetstone: Post-Pleistocene in the Rotunda Galleries at the Gibbes Museum of Art from April 3 through July 19, 2009.

In May of 2008, Whetstone was named the first winner of the Factor Prize for Southern Art. The Factor Prize, established by Elizabeth and Mallory Factor and awarded by the Gibbes Museum of Art, 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.

Post-Pleistocene, Jeff Whetstone’s newest body of work, examines the history of man-made markings found within the depths of the Saltpetre caves of Tennessee and Alabama. From the vegetation surrounding the interior openings to the corridors and hidden rooms of these natural shelters, Whetstone’s large-format color photographs envelop viewers in the strange and foreboding darkness of spaces where all manner of people have taken refuge from the outside world.

During the Civil War, many of these caves were mined for their Saltpetre soil, which was used to produce gunpowder. Since then, the caves have become sites of lore, obsession, and extensive exploration, accumulating an expansive record of human markings, signatures, drawings, and messages on their walls. Some caves have been so heavily visited that the markings are several layers deep. They have elicited the voices of wild adolescents, homegrown explorers, civil war deserters, criminals, and scientists. Whetstone has photographed these caves from the vantage point of an artist, an explorer, an evolutionist, and a native son, and describes them as “cathedrals for human expression.”

“We’re delighted to have the opportunity to display the work of Factor Prize winner Jeff Whetstone. His skillfully executed large-scale photographs in this exhibition focus on man’s consistent desire to leave a mark,” notes Gibbes Executive Director Angela D. Mack.

Jeff Whetstone: Post-Pleistocene is organized by the Weatherspoon Art Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where it was curated by Xandra Eden, Curator of Exhibitions.

Jeff Whetstone
Jeff Whetstone was born in Chattanooga, TN and lives and works in Durham, NC. He received a degree in Zoology from Duke University in 1990 and his MFA in photography from Yale University in 2001. His work has been exhibited internationally and has been reviewed in The Village Voice, New York Times, New Yorker Magazine, and the Los Angeles Times. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007. Whetstone teaches at the Art Department of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. His work is represented by Julie Saul Gallery, NY.

Established as the Carolina Art Association in 1858, the Gibbes Museum of Art opened its doors to the public in 1905. 

Located in Charleston’s historic district, the Gibbes houses a premier collection of over 10,000 works of fine art, principally American works with a Charleston or Southern connection and presents special exhibitions annually. In addition, the museum offers an extensive complement of public programming and educational outreach initiatives.

As the aesthetic heart of the Lowcountry, the Gibbes serves the community by stimulating creative expression, increasing economic vitality through tourism, and improving the region’s superb quality of life.

135 Meeting Street * Charleston, SC * 29401