Summerton art exhibit features generational black history


The Lake Marion Artisans Art Gallery is hosting an art exhibit during Black History Month called "Generations: An Exhibit of Local African American Artists of All Ages."

The exhibition will feature artistic creations from teens to seniors. Students at Scott's Branch High School in Summerton have been working on art designed specifically for the show, and artisans from Summerton Senior Quilters will also display work in the exhibit.

Students from Tarleton Blackwell's art classes have been working on portraits of famous blacks who have impacted black history.

"I've encouraged my students to focus on local heroes, and some of my students are even related to some of the subjects in these portraits," said Blackwell, who is a Manning native and renowned artist who has shown work in more than 350 exhibitions and who has personally contributed to black history with his innovative art.

According to Blackwell, the young artists are using a "grid technique" to create their projects for the gallery exhibit. Blackwell also plans for his students to write accompanying essays to explain why they chose their individual art projects and the relevance of their subjects to history.

Students worked for weeks to complete their portraits.

Mahogany Mulkey chose to sketch Olivia Brown, the little girl at the center of Brown vs. the Board of Education, the landmark case that included Briggs vs. Elliot, which originated in Summerton and was the first of the federal cases filed about segregation. Another student, Sarah Middleton, said, "I chose Thurgood Marshall because his work was integral in integrating schools."

Students selected young subjects, older subjects, historical subjects and a few contemporary subjects, all people who made a difference historically.

Blackwell said he was pleased that students were adding these projects to their portfolios and were getting the exposure at the Lake Marion Artisans Art Gallery.

"Many of my students receive scholarships to Columbia College, Claflin University and Benedict College, amongst others," he said.

Bonnie Gardner, who spearheaded the exhibit for the gallery, said the Lake Marion Artisans involved youth at the high school because they are the future of the gallery.

"Mr. Blackwell was extremely supportive of the gallery's proposal from the beginning and will be showing one of his own works of art," Gardner said.

Nancy Foster, another gallery member working on the exhibit, said a secondary goal was, hopefully, to draw interest and support for the gallery from all the members of the community as an outreach to grow the gallery.

A spokeswoman for the Summerton Senior Quilters said her group has been meeting every weekday in the Old Scott's Branch High School to work on projects. They will exhibit nine newly created quilts, which will be for sale and will fund future quilting projects.

"Generations: An Exhibit of Local African American Artists of All Ages" runs through Feb. 28 at The Lake Marion Artisans Art Gallery, a nonprofit organization, at 108 Main St., Summerton.

A reception for the multi-generational artists will be held at the gallery on Saturday, Feb. 17, from 3 to 5 p.m. The public is invited.

The gallery's normal hours of operation are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Any sales from the exhibit will go directly to the artists.

For more information, contact the gallery at (803) 460-2716 or email the gallery at