Art in Action

Written By: 
Sara Sobota
A celebration of South Carolina arts

PHOTO: Viewers enjoy a denim applique exhibit by 2014 S.C. Arts Commission Visual Arts Fellow Jim Arendt.

The South Carolina Arts Commission turns 50 this year, and it’s throwing a yearlong, statewide party to celebrate. From exhibitions and showcases to conferences and festivals, the S.C. Arts Commission is covering the state with arts events from June 2017 to June 2018. Coastal Carolina University will play host to a major event in November to honor area artists who have earned funding awards from the organization over the years.

For the past five decades, the S.C. Arts Commission has worked to build, support and promote a thriving arts environment within the state. In forwarding its goal of allowing all South Carolinians to experience and benefit from the arts, it has partnered with artists, arts organizations, educators and community leaders to offer diverse arts programming and arts education in literary arts, music, dance, theater, craft and visual arts. The commission emphasizes the economic as well as cultural impact of the arts, noting on its website that the state’s creative enterprise “engenders a core impact of $9.2 billion and 78,682 jobs and a full impact of $13.3 billion and 107,614 jobs.”

Eighteen artists from Horry and Georgetown counties have won S.C. Arts Fellows awards over the years, and eight of those are Coastal Carolina University faculty members. CCU will showcase their artistic work as well as the organization that has supported them at an event on November 3.

Amy Tully, associate dean of the Thomas W. and Robin W. Edwards College of Humanities and Fine Arts and associate professor of music, said CCU wishes to showcase faculty and local artists’ works for veteran art enthusiasts as well as those new to the scene.

“Coastal Carolina University has the most faculty of any university in the state to win fellowships and awards over the past 50 years of the commission’s history,” Tully said. “Thus, it is a natural fit for us to host one of the anniversary events this season. We have a unique community of arts lovers on the Grand Strand, including those who grew up here, those who are transplants, and those who travel here as ‘snow birds’ looking for quality arts programming at their home away from home. At Coastal we are committed to supporting the fine arts and cherish the support from our state organizations like the S.C. Arts Commission.”

The CCU event involves performances and exhibits from 12 S.C. Arts Fellows in the areas of visual arts, literature, poetry, craft and folk heritage.

“Participants will hear readings of monologues, poetry, literature and stories of South Carolina folk life and cultural advocacy from former and current South Carolina Arts Commission fellows,” said Tully. “There will also be music and an art exhibit featuring former and current visual and craft artists.”

Jeremy Griffin, CCU lecturer of English and the S.C. Arts Commission’s 2017 Prose Fellow, will read an excerpt from his short story “At the Bottom of Everything.”

“The award is one of the most immense honors of my life,” said Griffin. “Writing can be such a solitary act—you’re sitting in a room, alone, fumbling around in your head for ideas. It can be tough. But to know that someone finds value in your work is hugely gratifying. So I’m honored just to be a part of the event, and I’m especially excited to read alongside some of my friends and colleagues.”

For information on the November 3 event, visit coastal.edu/culturalarts; for information on the S.C. Arts Commission’s anniversary celebration, visit www.southcarolinaarts.com/50/.