Black is Beautiful and Beyond: An Art-Filled Day in Columbia SC
Monday, June 22, 2020 12:00 AM by Kelly Barbrey
Culture, history and style converge on the Columbia SC art scene. In this time of reflection, listening, learning and growing, what could be more relevant – and more fun – than a day of immersion in a variety of art exhibits and works?
The Columbia Museum of Art welcomes Black is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite. Yes, it was a movement even before it was a hashtag, and it began with photographer Kwame Brathwaite in the 1960s, who started Grandassa Models, a modeling agency for black women, celebrating their natural beauty and style. Vivid photography, glorious fashion and themes of strength and celebration make this exhibit a must-see between June 27 and September 6, 2020.
While it’s impossible to take in all of Columbia’s public art in one visit, One Columbia’s public art directory makes it easy to narrow your search and create your own mini tours based on geographic area or specific interest. Here are a few suggestions for your next visit:
Stop by the Thomas Cooper Library at the University of South Carolina (1322 Greene Street) and pay a visit to the statue by John Hair celebrating Richard T. Greener, the first African American graduate of Harvard and the only black professor at a Southern university during reconstruction. Greener taught at UofSC from 1873-1877.
Inspiring murals can be found all around Columbia SC, including a vibrant depiction of George Washington Carver by artist Danrelle McCall sharing the message “Where there is no vision, there is no hope.” Find this work on exterior of the Rare Variety Vegan Café at 4622 N. Main Street in the NOMA district.
No visit to Columbia SC is complete without paying a visit to The Chicken Man, folk artist Ernest Lee. With works ranging from lighthearted to contemplative, his art tells a story which can be part of your story. Catch him if you can at his open-air studio on Gervais Street near the Millwood intersection (across from the First Nazareth Baptist Church).
For a deeper dive into the Columbia SC African American art scene, join the Columbia Museum of Art Friends of African American Art and Culture for special programming, artist insights, and other ways to support the African American art community.
Insider tip: If you need a stylish face covering while exploring exhibits, check out the fierce mask collection from Columbia SC’s own Carolina Clutches.