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‘Gorgeous’: quartet of exhibits celebrating black history month open Uptown

February 9, 2019

Index Journal, Aleks Gilbert

Artists set themselves up for failure when they burden the audience with the expectation of knowing “exactly what the artist is talking about,” Jonell Logan said at the opening reception for “WOVEN” Friday evening.

Norma Hammond would have been happy to hear it; she came to the Arts Center of Greenwood, which is hosting the exhibit, to experience a different culture through art, but found some of the installations challenging.

“I got to look at it awhile to figure it out,” she said while considering Michaela Pilar Brown’s abstract “Search for New Land.”

“Every year, we do something for Black History Month,” said Jennifer Smith, gallery director for the Arts Center. “This year, we decided that we want to focus on women.”

“We knew that we wanted to look at texture and textiles,” Jonell Logan, the exhibit’s curator, said. “That was kind of the root.”

It was not a coincidence. Down the street, The Museum hosted the opening reception for “The Ties that Bind – Service for a Lifetime”; “I’m NOT Every Woman, I’m a PHENOMENAL Woman,” of the 12th annual African American fiber art traveling exhibition; and “The Art of Quilting.”

“Frequently when we think about that in the black community, we think about quilting,” Logan said. But she wanted to define textiles broadly. That meant “bringing elements together because you sew, weave, connect things,” she said.

Janice Degraffinreid, of Spartanburg, convinced her friend Mary Bolden, of Anderson, to make the trip for the reception.

“It wasn’t hard because we’re both historians,” Bolden said. “We love African-American history, and just history period.”

Bolden welcomed the focus on African-American art and history.

“If you weren’t educated to write it, you had to tell it,” she said. Some of those oral histories were “lost in the shuffle” over time, and exhibits such as these help fight such erasure.

Lavondra Sussewell doesn’t often visit art exhibits — or Uptown Greenwood, for that matter — but “something about this (exhibit) really caught my attention.”

“It was intriguing,” said Glenda Green, who had come to see the exhibits with her friend, Mary Stevens. “It was not art as I thought of art.”

She was especially intrigued by Logan’s likening of the three-dimensional, “Search for New Land” to a painting. “I guess that’s what an artist does,” she mused. “See things differently.”

Her favorite of the four exhibits, however, were “I’m NOT Every Woman, I’m a PHENOMENAL Woman” and “The Art of Quilting.”

“Oh God,” she exclaimed when asked about the exhibit. “Gorgeous.”

Debbie Cameron, one of the featured artists, was an unlikely addition.

In 2002, she suffered an accident in her garage that split her head open. Among myriad complications that followed was having to relearn how to sew.

“My faith got me through,” Cameron said. “I’m not where I need to be,” she said of her quilting, “but God’s been good, and I’m proud of it.”

Ti Barnes came for “The Ties that Bind – Service for a Lifetime,” which celebrates African-American sororities and fraternities.

“To see a diverse crowd out here tonight was spectacular,” Barnes said.

African-American fraternities and sororities are unique, according to Barnes, in their level of commitment.

“Once you cross the burning sands — this is for life,” he said. He demurred when asked to explain what the “burning sands” are, however.

“I can only tell you so much,” he said, smiling.

Contact staff writer Aleks Gilbert at 864-943-5644.


Posted by: greenwoodcommunities on February 9, 2019
Posted in: Greenwood, SC