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“Marked by the Water”: a confluence of local writers’ and artists’ responses to last October’s flood

Fifty members of Columbia’s creative community collaborated, although usually in isolation, on visual and verbal responses to last October’s 1,000 year flood. Their evocative efforts culminated in an event that was both visual art exhibition and book launch, Tuesday, Oct. 4, at Tapp’s Arts Center on Main Street.

The backstory: During the preparatory summer months, artists and writers invited to write and create art for the project were given an opportunity to set the tone for their responses via the viewing of Wade Sellers’ “Anatomy of a Flood,” a documentary film that re-appeared at the first anniversary event, shown on a loop running throughout the event.

Viewing the works comprising the gallery exhibition, executed in multiple mediums, occupied participants’ and guests’ attention during the first half hour of the event. At 7:30 p.m., the crowd quieted for the unveiling of a 48” X 60”, oil on linen painting by Stephen Chesley entitled, “Spillway, Twilight.”

At 8 p.m., the Skyline Room became a theater space for a dance installation choreographed by Martha Brim, “Reach/Rise/Crest/Spill” performed by the Power Company Collaborative. Ron Hagell’s film, “Rising Tide,” also was screened.

Among authors reading elements of their pieces published in the hardcover book, “Marked by the Water,” were: Don McAllister, Worthy Evans, Paul Brown, Len Lawson, Nicola Waldron, Kendal Turner and Emily Oliver. The books’ pages were interspersed with images of works of art selected for the gallery exhibition. Excerpts of poetry were read by: Jennifer Bartell and Ed Madden.

Other participating artists and writers not already named were: Mike Williams, Susan Lenz, Laurie Brownell McIntosh, Laura Spong, Allan Anderson, Michaela Pilar Brown, Lee Malerich, Glenn Saborosch, Tim Conroy, Claudia Smith Brinson , Bill Guess, Lauren Chapman, Bugsy Calhoun, Nicole Seitz, Bill Higgins, Lindsay McManus, Don Calhoun, Eric Morris, Carla Damron, Paul Brown, Jennifer Bartell, Michael Dantzler, Kara Gunter, Rachel Haynie, Mary Robinson, Eileen Blyth, and Gina Moore.

Mary Benz Gilkerson curated the gallery exhibition; Ed Madden and Cindi Boiter edited the book. Barry Wheeler coordinated the media installation. The project was supported by a Connected Communities grant from Central Carolina Community Foundation as well as other organizations and individuals.

The visual art exhibition remains on view at Tapp’s Art Center through Oct. 28.


–Shared from Palmetto Artifacts by Rachel Haynie

Feature Image:  Stephen Chesley’s “Spillway, Twilight” was unveiled in a dramatic moment during the opening reception of “Marked by the Water,” a Jasper project combining the launch of a published, hard-cover book and an art exhibition. Works remain on view at Tapp’s Art Center

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