MOA Highlights Gullah Art and Culture

This fall, the Museum of Anthropology presents a unique collaboration in the form of a new exhibit: Visions of Home: A Celebration of Gullah Art and Culture, which will be on display August 30, 2016 through April 22, 2017.

Home has personal significance and meaning.  The idea of home can encompass leaving, losing, finding, making, enjoying, remembering.  Home may be a journey, a place, an object, a landscape, people, creatures, a hope, a memory, and more.  Through the contemporary art and ethnographic artifacts featured in the exhibit, home is envisioned as a patchwork of places, histories, and identities by the Gullah people of the southeastern Atlantic coast.  The exhibit features original works by Sea Islands artists from the Red Piano Too Gallery, as well as works by Wake Forest University Assistant Professor Katherine Ziff, and objects from the Museum of Anthropology’s collection.

Dandylion Gillins webx

Dandylion, Cassandra Gillins

The Red Piano Too Art Gallery, located adjacent to the historic Penn Center of St. Helena Island, South Carolina, represents an eclectic and unique collection of Southern artists, particularly those who call the Sea Islands home. The artists submitted 57 pieces of two- and three-dimensional works in response to a call for art from the Museum this spring.  In June, the Museum staff traveled to St. Helena Island to collect the loaned art, meet gallery owner Mary Inabinett Mack, and experience the landscape firsthand.


Bisimbi, Katherine Ziff

Bisimbi, Katherine Ziff

The Red Piano Too artists’ work is shown within the context of arts-based research by WFU Department of Counseling Assistant Professor Katherine Ziff that reflects upon the traumatic experience of enslaved Africans.  In the New World, they found a way, through a religious and cultural affinity with nature (in the form of water spirits known as the simbi), to creatively embody home in the Lowcountry of the Carolinas.  The exhibit features five of Katherine’s original prints.  These contemporary works are paired with a selection of Central and West African objects from the Museum of Anthropology’s permanent collection.

The MOA will present programing related to the exhibit throughout its run beginning with a reception for MOA Friends on September 30.  A panel discussion is scheduled for November 9, at which scholars will elaborate on the themes of the exhibit and offer their personal reflections.  During the spring semester, the Museum will host a screening of Daughters of the Dust, a 1991 Sundance Festival award-winning film about Gullah life in the Sea Islands, an academic lecture, and a family-friendly workshop.  Additional details about these events will be coming soon.

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