The American Gullah Exhibition’ is a traveling exhibit that depicts the unsung pioneers of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor and of America. The story behind this culture’s creation is compelling. The Gullahs are descendants of West Africans who were forced to the colony through the trans-Atlantic slave trade. This unique culture of enslaved West Africans inhabited the Sea Islands of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida prior and since the Civil War. They were brought to South Carolina because of their knowledge of the process of cultivating rice. However, they also possessed other intellectual prowess. In addition, West African people brought their culture with many valuable assets that have influenced American culture. The combination of all these things made West African enslaved people one of the most valuable assets on South Carolina rice plantations, giving them a major role in the successful production and preparation of rice and the major success of the economy in South Carolina.
Sonja Griffin Evans is an international Gullah Artist, Speaker and Pan African Cultural Heritage Fellow, born and raised in Beaufort, South Carolina. Growing up in the Lowcountry, which prides itself on its ability to preserve its culture and heritage, has heavily influenced Sonja’s artwork, and gives her an uncanny ability to capture the beauty, spirituality and purest representations of the Gullah Sea Island and African American culture. As a prolific mix media artist, she incorporates items such as tin, wood and other materials in her art. She is also adept at painting the vibrantly colored art on canvas that is acknowledged as the traditional Gullah style. In both mediums, Sonja is careful to express her culture in its purest form. Evans believes that everything that God has created is not only beautiful, but has a purpose and states nothing should be wasted. She further believes she merely holds the paint brush and God ultimately creates the art.
Sonja Griffin Evans was recently selected as one of 150 artists from around the world (U.S., Italy, Brazil, Switzerland, Ukraine, Germany, Ecuador just to name a few) by the #1 AppleTv Lifestyle App, Loupe, a global streaming curated art gallery available in 40 countries and streaming in 80 countries. Sonja’s work has been exhibited internationally on a three city tour in France, including Tour Saint Aubin, Angers France. Her work has been featured by the National Park Service, selected by the Westin Hilton Head Spa and Resort to display permanently commemorating historic Mitchelville.
“…and beauty is not the need but an ecstasy.
It is not a mouth thirsting nor an empty hand stretched forth,
But rather a heart enflamed and a soul enchanted,
Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror
But you are eternity and you are the mirror.
“Many traditions teach that our lives could be enriched
Made spiritually alive,
And even healed through the magical power of art.”
These sculptural works done over several years reflect my abiding interest in finding new methods for old materials, and the importance of looking at a real three-dimensional object to capture our attention for more than a moment.
For me, poetry is the language of sculpture-it alludes, examines, has substance, and reflects reality back to us in subtle ways. The poems of Robert Frost caught my attention for this show, and his words seem particularly relevant today. “Mending Wall” is an often-repeated poem in today’s discussion of border walls.
“There where it is we do not need the wall:
He is all pine and I am apple orchard.
My apple trees will never get across
And eat the cones under his pines, I tell him.
He only says, “Good fences make good neighbours.”
The nine sculptures Sentinels and Guardians were completed while I lived on the border in Texas. The issue of global migration is affecting societies throughout the world as climate and violence change the world. Migration has always been part of human DNA because we evolved from hunter and gatherers, following the herd. Borders and defense of territory only came about as mankind became an agrarian society, with a hierarchical social structure, and property. Images of Sentinels and Guardians are seen throughout art history, on the ruins of city gates, churches, and palaces. The record of failed societies reminds us, that one thing is sure; there is no one simple solution.
Frost’s poem of love, passion and hate, Fire And Ice, has double meaning for us as we face the effects of global warming.
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
We all encounter obstacles and walls in our search for purpose. Like the old saying, what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. When we overcome obstacles our goal seems even more valuable. I hope you will find poetry and your own meaning in these works. Thank you for your contemplation and gift of looking.
Leo Tolstoy said, “All the variety, all the charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow.” What is dark, what was hidden, what needs to be revealed? This exploration of light and shadow shows real and alternative realities, where objects are emphasized or subverted, and investigates the many layers that surround our traditional sense of the real. My dreams are brought to light from the dark.
What's in the house now!CLICK HERE
What just left:(CLICK HERE