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February Issue 2011

SC State Museum in Columbia, SC, Offers Folk Art from its Collection

A large exhibition of traditional South Carolina folk art will open Feb. 26, 2011, in the South Carolina State Museum's Lipscomb Art Gallery. Uncommon Folk: Folk Art from the Collection of the South Carolina State Museum will feature art made by everyday, untrained-but-talented people whose works served to fill a need before they became recognized as a distinct art form. The exhibition will be on view through Oct. 31, 2011.

Quilts, stoneware or Catawba Indian pots, sweetgrass or split oak baskets are representative of the many utilitarian objects included in the exhibition, but there are many more that can be appreciated solely for their aesthetic qualities.

"The term 'folk art' reflects traditional, community-based works or art that have grown out of a specific need within a group of individuals sharing common interests and practices," said Curator of Art Paul Matheny. "Historically speaking, communities depended on artists and craftspeople within their towns and villages to provide everyday objects made from material that was readily available and found locally.

"These objects often were needed for everyday survival and were hand-made, not mass produced. In addition to the 'core' elements of quilts, pots and baskets, works by self-taught artists connected to a specific tradition also are included in the show."

These include many artifacts that have rarely, or often never, been seen in the museum's exhibits, such as: a large part of L.C. Carson's "concrete city," including three recently-conserved reproductions of the Roman Colosseum, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and a Central American temple; a wild west town made of coat hangers; silhouettes made by Carew Rice and his grandson Clay, including a Clay Rice silhouette of the late master Charleston blacksmith Phillip Simmons; turkey calls and decoys; Lowcountry shrimp nets; a flat bottom boat by Willie DeReef, the last of the Gullah boat makers; whimsical metal "whirligigs;" paintings; drawings; metal toys such as a windmill, truck and tractor; and wood carvings by Dan Robert Miller.

"One thing I'm excited about is our recent acquisition of several textiles," said Matheny. "They include a Williamsburg County-made flag dress and bonnet from 1917 and two narrative quilts from Marion County featuring images of farm life and hunting. Also, newly-acquired stoneware pottery by Michele Bayne and Peter Lenzo are thrilling new additions to our collection."

The exhibit is a joint partnership with South Carolina ETV. The state television network will produce a documentary film, also called Uncommon Folk, which will focus on seven South Carolina folk artists. The film will premiere at the State Museum on Feb. 26, the opening day of the exhibit.

"By coincidence, that's also the birthday of L.C. Carson, one of the exhibit's featured artists," said Matheny.

"We are fortunate to live in a state with craftspeople who are willing to recognize historical crafts," said the curator. "We're thankful that these artists are interested in embracing these traditions, and incorporating them into their own work for future generations to enjoy and learn from."

For more info check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call 803/898-4921 or visit (www.southcarolinastatemuseum.org).


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