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State Museum Celebrates Artist Dr. Leo Twiggs During Art Day

The South Carolina State Museum will celebrate art in South Carolina during Art Day on Saturday, March 10 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The signature event will feature a variety of programs highlighting the work of South Carolina artist, community leader and former State Museum Commissioner Dr. Leo Twiggs, focusing on his current exhibit Requiem for Mother Emanuel. Activities will include a gallery talk by Twiggs, music performances from the Mother Emanuel AME Choir and Indigo Soul, South Carolina artists working throughout the museum, behind-the-scenes tours, hands-on family activities and more.

Twiggs, an award-winning artist, educator and arts leader, has worked determinedly for over 60 years in the arts in South Carolina and the culmination of his experience can been seen in his exhibition Requiem for Mother Emanuel. The exhibit, now open at the State Museum, was created in the aftermath of the murders at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, in June of 2015. The nine batik paintings provided a vehicle for Twiggs to process this awful event and search for meaning as he continued to work. Dr. Twiggs will discuss this series, the medium in which the paintings are created and how the process helped him cope with the tragedy.

Dr. Leo Twiggs. (Photo by Jerry Siegel)

“All of my works have deep roots in my experiences growing up in the South but my intent, as always, is to explore the human condition,” says Twiggs. “It is this exploration, I believe, that makes art endearing and enduring.”

Before and after the gallery talk from Twiggs, Indigo Soul will perform musical selections including, leading guests in a rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing. Indigo Soul is a soul music trio featuring the combined talents of locally based performing artists Katrina Blanding, Terrance Henderson, and Kendrick Marion. Using song, movement, theater and storytelling, Indigo Soul is dedicated to creating new works and using music as a means of healing and conversation. Performance and talk begins at 1:30pm on the 4th floor.

Immediately following, the Mother Emanuel AME Church choir from Charleston will perform for guests on the third floor. Often referred to as Mother Emanuel, the church was founded in 1816, Emanuel AME is the oldest African Methodist Episcopal church in the Southern United States, with the first independent black denomination in the United States as well as one of the oldest black congregations south of Baltimore.

Art Day will also feature special guided behind-the-scenes tours of the museum’s art storage areas, which include more than 4,000 works of art dating between 1590 to present, and a variety of live demonstrations in which guests get an up close and personal look at how artists make their visions come to life. Metal sculptor, Herman Thompson, potter John Sharpe, and painters Alicia Leeke, Brian Rego, Allan Anderson and Rick Wells will be working onsite. The day will also include kid friendly hands-on activities focusing on resist techniques used by Dr. Twiggs in his batik paintings.

All Art Day activities are included with museum general admission or membership. Visit scmuseum.org to learn more.

As the state’s largest and most comprehensive museum, the South Carolina State Museum offers a unique, entertaining and educational experience to visitors throughout its 225,000 square foot facility located in the heart of downtown Columbia’s Congaree Vista.  The State Museum is housed in one of its largest artifacts, an 1894 old textile mill full of character and charm.  Guests can explore outer space in one of the largest planetariums in the Southeast, watch an interactive 4D movie and look through a vintage telescope in a one-of-a-kind observatory. These opportunities are all in addition to the four floors of South Carolina art, cultural history, natural history and science/technology. Visit scmuseum.org to learn more. 

Dr. Twiggs was born in St. Stephen, South Carolina. He received his B.A. Summa Cum Laude from Claflin University, later studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and received his M.A. from New York University where he studied with Hale Woodruff, the acclaimed African-American painter and muralist. He received his doctorate in Art Education from the University of Georgia. As Professor of Art at South Carolina State University, he developed the Art Department and I.P. Stanback Museum. Twiggs was named Professor Emeritus in 2000. Twiggs has had over 70 one-man shows and his work has received international recognition, with exhibits at the Studio Museum and the American Crafts Museum in New York and in U. S. Embassies in Rome, Dakar and Togoland, among others. His work has been widely published in art textbooks and featured in several television documentaries. Twiggs has served on numerous boards throughout the state including the South Carolina State Museum Commission, the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities, and the South Carolina Arts Commission. He was the first artist to receive the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award for outstanding contributions to the arts in South Carolina in 1980 and in 2017 he received a second Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award for lifetime achievement in the arts. In May of 2017 Twiggs received the state’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Palmetto.

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