Homecoming Exhibition - Journey from Africa to Gullah

Thursday, October 9, 2008


The I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium “The Stanback” on the campus of South Carolina State University “SC State” presents Journey from Africa to Gullah from October 9, 2008 to January 12, 2009 with the opening reception on Thursday, October 9th from 5:30 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

The exhibition Journey from Africa to Gullah, presented in recognition of the 2008 Bicentennial of the end of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, will showcase a slave castle on an Island in Sierra Leone named Bunce Island, and the connection between Africa and the Gullah community of South Carolina. The opening will be hosted by Anita Singleton Prather as Aunt Pearlie Sue of the Gullah Kinfolk, educator and performer; Emory S. Campbell, consultant, author, Gullah Heritage Commissioner and former Executive Director of Penn Center, Thomalind Martin Polite descendant of Priscilla, graduate of SC State University; and Ron Daise, author, historian and TV star of Gullah Gullah Island. The exhibit will showcase the unique relationship between Gullah and African art and artifacts. Loans of art and artifacts by the artists, Penn Center, Red Piano Gallery Too, The Gallery, the Charleston Museum, College of Charleston and Mary Inabinett Mack will assist in making this comparison possible. A genuine African Elephant Safari tent used for hunting, donated by the Starnes Family, along with slave shackles from the James Brown Estate, will also be showcased from The Stanback’s collection of African artifacts. In addition, the exhibition will feature the art of contemporary artists who are inspired by the Gullah and African cultures including Al Davis, Charles Desaussure, Sam Doyle, Diane Britton Dunham, Allen Fireall, Dr. Tolulope Filani, Cassandra Gillens, Floyd Gordon, Jonathan Green, Alyne Harris, Hank Herring, William Johnson, Arianne King-Comer, Alan Laird, Richard Law, Judy Mooney, Geraldine Smith, Helen Stewart, Jery Bennett Taylor, Leo Twiggs, Luther E. Vann and Richard White. During the opening the Stanback gift shop will be a marketplace of books, prints of featured artwork and various commemorative items by the artists. Roland Haynes and Friends will accompany the opening exhibition of art and artifacts with the Melodic Roots of the American Cultural Evolution. Gullah Culinary Artists, Anita Singleton Prather, Sallie Ann Robinson (author of "Cooking the Gullah Way" and "Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way") and S.C. State's Joy of the Yard will showcase authentic Gullah recipes.

The accompanying planetarium show Decoding the Stars: Negro Spirituals and the Underground Railroad, will explore the information about the stars incorporated into Negro Spirituals as they were used as a navigation tool for the Underground Railroad presented by Dr. Elizabeth Mayo, the Stanback’s Planetarium Manager, with the foreword by Carl Westmoreland, Curator and Senior Advisor to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. As an additional celestial feature, visitors will be able to view the night sky through telescopes on the Stanback’s rear lawn.

A series of lectures, workshops and performances titled The Journey Continues begins at the opening reception and continues through December 4th . These will include screening of the film, Family Across the Sea, October 16th at 5:30 p.m., detailing the Journey Back to Sierra Leone with Emory S. Campbell; Gullah Culture, October 23rd at 5:30 p.m., presenting lessons about Gullah culture by Ronald Daise, in S.C. State Fine Arts Center Auditorium; discussions on Priscilla’s Story, November 6 at 5:30 p.m. with Joseph Opala and Thomalind Martin Polite; performance by Aunt Pearlie Sue and the Gullah Kinfolk, November 13th at 7:00 p.m., accompanied by S.C. State faculty, staff, and students; and Indigo workshop by Arianne King-Comer and Basketmaking workshop by Jery Bennett Taylor, December 4th at 5:30 p.m.

The exhibition and events were curated by the Stanback’s Director, Ellen Zisholtz, who said her goal was to make this exhibition unique to the Stanback, so she sought out pieces from acquaintances and artists across the state and region to curate "Journey from Africa to Gullah," which showcases the unique relationship between Gullah and African art and artifacts. "I hope that when visitors come, they get an appreciation of the significance and richness of the Gullah culture, and an understanding of the direct ties between Western Africa and South Carolina.

A bonus for attendees will be a sneak preview of the next exhibition at The Stanback “Introduction to the Life and Times of the Legendary Godfather of Soul, James Brown”, which will open on Monday, February 27, 2009.

For additional information, contact the I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium at (803) 536-7174.