Traveling art show celebrates the ‘African-American Voice'

From sweetgrass baskets to photography and everything in between, black South Carolinians have been contributing to the state's arts scene for centuries.

The South Carolina Arts Commission has organized an exhibition to honor those contributions. The "African-American Voice" traveling art show will open with a reception Thursday and run through Feb. 28 at the University of South Carolina Beaufort Center for the Arts in Beaufort.

"It's an excellent exhibition that gives you a sense of the range of diversity among works of art from African-Americans from South Carolina," arts commission executive director Ken May said.

The free exhibit will include 30 pieces of art from the State Art Collection. It includes a wide variety of contemporary two-dimensional and three-dimensional art, including sculptures, photography, sweetgrass baskets, paintings and more.

The 19 featured artists include self-taught artists such as the late Sam Doyle of St. Helena Island as well as formally trained artists such as Leo Twiggs and Tarleton Blackwell. USCB Center for the Arts director Bonnie Hargrove said although some of the artists have moved out of the state, all have roots in South Carolina.

Hargrove said the exhibit features some of the best artists in the state, something she hopes will attract more people to the center. She said USCB is striving to become an arts-focused campus and getting the community more involved in the visual and performing arts.

"This will be a great opportunity ... to come and see the work on display, talk to some of our art professors and faculty members and administration about the vision of what this campus is going to be about," Hargrove said.