SC State University Set to Reveal Largest African Art Exhibition in the State of South Carolina

Friday, October 26, 2012

SC State’s I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium will exhibit its major collection of African Art in a show entitled Africa Revisited: The Art of Power and Identity from October 26, 2012 through the end of August 2013. The opening event and reception will take place on Friday, October 26 during SC State’s 2012 Homecoming Weekend. At 7 p.m., the opening ceremony will begin, but audiences will not want to miss the African Market starting at 5 p.m. The exhibition and opening reception, including African cuisine and music are free and open to the public.

The Stanback has the largest collection of African Art in South Carolina and is the only museum in the State recognized by the Smithsonian African Art Library for its African collection. Recently, a new collection of African art and artifacts was donated to the Stanback by Linda and Simone Gregori, the former Director for The Texaco Corporation in Nigeria. Ellen Zisholtz, the Stanback’s Director stated, “With the addition of the new collection, the Stanback’s African collection has become one of great national significance.” It includes a pair of Terracotta sculptures created by the Nok civilization of Nigeria (500BC-400AD), making them over 2,000 years old and two of the oldest artworks of West Africa. 

The Gregori art enhances the wonderful collections previously donated by Roderick and Nancy McDonald, who collected while working with the U.S. State Department in Africa, with additions from the Columbia Museum of Art; Dr. Franklin Williams, President of The Phelps Stokes Foundation; James A. Miller and the estate of Ordwell Starnes, former Vice President for the Rockefeller Foundation in Africa. Dr. Jackie Adams, sister of Ordwell Starnes will represent the family at the opening. Dr. Cynthia Warrick, Interim President of SC State, thanked the Gregoris for their new donation and said, “South Carolina State University is proud to have an extensive African collection that provides a legacy for our generous contributors.”

The African art in the Stanback collection includes art from the diversity of the African continent including tribal works from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Zaire, Zambia. The exhibition will include works in wood, bronze and Ashanti gold, from masks and figures to musical instruments and objects of adornment. African art is a major art form and has been an important influence in the work of modern art throughout Europe and the U.S. African masks were a major inspiration for Picasso.

This will be the first exhibition of the Stanback’s African collections and a significant exhibition for SC State University, the state of South Carolina and the nation. An important element in the strategic plan of the Stanback is the development of a permanent African gallery through the expansion of the present facility.

The opening exhibition reception will also honor the SC State Sports Hall of Fame Inductees, who will be present to meet the public. African attire is encouraged at the opening reception. The Stanback Student Friends new musical ensemble will provide African music and African dance will be performed by Ujima.  

The I.P. Stanback Museum and Planetarium is a collaborative partner with Penn Center's 150th Anniversary and the 2013 Jubilee Project: Free at Last? and is a member of the Association of African American Museums.

For additional information about Africa Revisited: The Art of Power and Identity or to schedule weekend visits contact Ellen Zisholtz, director of The Stanback, at (803)536-7174/(803)928-6861; or Ingrid Owens, program manager of The Stanback, at (803)536-8329/(704)649-6604 or visit