Supper Table Spotlight: Ebony Wilson and Malie Heider

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 23rd in our series on Supper Table Artists!

Still from Ebony Wilson’s film honoring Sarah Leverette

Still from Ebony Wilson’s film honoring Sarah Leverette

Sarah Leverette was, and is, a powerful inspiration to women in and outside of South Carolina, having spent her life breaking glass ceilings wherever she went, from the Civil Air Patrol to the School of Law at USC, where she was the first female law professor. She passed only shortly over a year ago, but her accomplishments will not soon be forgotten.

Tasked with turning Leverette’s long & varied career into one short film is Ebony Wilson. Since 2012, Wilson has written, directed, produced, and edited her own original works, most notably the 2017 feature Sci-Fi Drama, 2025: Prelude to Infusco. In the process of undertaking countless projects and workloads, Wilson has managed to sell her work, build brand engagement for her clients, and nurture long relationships with those around her. She owns and operates her independent production company, Midnight Crow Pro- ductions, and is the founder and administrator of the Columbia Film Community. The Supper Table project will be Ebony’s third collaboration with the Jasper Project.

As Wilson approached ideas for her film on Leverette, what struck her the most was how influential Leverette was/is for women. Still today, women struggle with issues of motherhood, glass ceilings, and the legacy they will be able to leave behind. Leverette is a constant force that reminds women they can leave whatever mark on the world they choose to. Thus, Wilson decided not to make a biopic about Leverette but instead to explore how Leverette’s legacy affects women now, in 2019 and beyond.

Ebony Wilson

Ebony Wilson

Bringing Sarah Leverette to life on the stage is Malie Heider. Heider grew up in Columbia, where she began studying acting with Mary Lou Kramer. Since then, she has enjoyed acting, studying, and teaching theatre in a variety of places up and down the East Coast, as well as China, Japan, and Indonesia. In Columbia, she has worked at Trustus Theatre, Workshop Theatre, the University of South Carolina, the South Carolina Shakespeare Company, the Arts at Shandon, and SCETV, most recently in Betsy Newman’s documentary production on Belle Baruch.  

Heider remarks that she’s in awe of what Leverette did in her life and the fact she did it for so long. Leverette was 98 when she passed, and Heider believes, as do many others, that if Leverette was alive today, she would still be avidly working to keep breaking glass ceilings and to make it possible for others to do so as well. Heider also wonders about what Leverette had to give up in terms of personal life and family in order to throw herself so completely into her work and mentorship. Heider hopes that this passion, determination, and sacrifice comes across in her performance.

Malie Heider

Malie Heider

Wilson’s complete film and Heider’s performance will be available for viewing at both opening events for the Supper Table. Our Trustus Theatre event is sold out, but our nearly identical second opening event is Sunday, September 8th, at Harbison Theatre, and tickets start at $15.

Supper Table Spotlight: Eileen Blyth and Katly Hong

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 22nd in our series on Supper Table Artists!

Still from Katly Hong’s film on Althea Gibson

Still from Katly Hong’s film on Althea Gibson

Althea Gibson was the first black athlete to break racial barriers of international tennis, specifically when she became the first black American to win a Grand Slam title. Additionally, Gibson was a golfer, a singer, and a black woman trying to have access to the same rights and activities as everyone around her, through doing what she did best – playing tennis.

Eileen Blyth is the visual artist who created a place-setting for Gibson. Blyth is a Columbia artist known for her paintings and found art sculptures. Originally from Charleston, Eileen has always thought of herself as a painter. She earned her BA from the College of Charleston and studied graphic design at the University of South Carolina. She is inspired by the moment of creation when there is a sudden shift into a space of knowing and composition falls into place. Blyth’s studio is located at Stormwater Studios in Columbia, and her work is represented by Carol Saunders Gallery in Columbia, Camilla Art Gallery in Hilton Head, and Art & Light Gallery in Greenville.

Eileen Blyth

Eileen Blyth

Blyth’s place-setting is heavily inspired by Gibson’s tennis career, which is what brought her to fame, but also contains elements of Gibson’s other achievements. For example, the background of Blyth’s place-setting is modeled after a tennis court, and both the frame on her platter as well as the handle of her goblet come from disassembled found tennis rackets.

Blyth said that she “liked the metaphor for serving and service both on the court and at the clubs she was allowed to play in but not go in” that is represented by the frame on the platter as well as the glove holding the golf club.

The platter itself is engraved with Gibson’s name and the quote: “She was born too soon”.

supper table eileen althea.jpeg

Turning Gibson’s full life into a short film is Katly Hong. She is an interdisciplinary artist who regularly pivots between visual, media, and performance art. For the Supper Table, Hong was enthralled by the challenge of honoring Gibson’s incredible athleticism and her determination to be somebody in a time of segregation and open discrimination.

Katly Hong

Katly Hong

Hong’s film uses animation and music to honor Gibson’s life. While the film’s animation mainly focuses on Gibson’s tennis accomplishments and accolades, the music in the background is Gibson’s own from the music career she embarked on later in life.

Supper Table Spotlight: Flavia Lovatelli and Jocelyn Sanders

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 21st in our series on Supper Table Artists!

Flavia Lovatelli

Flavia Lovatelli

It’d be nearly impossible to give a complete list of adjectives describing Supper Table honoree Mary McLeod Bethune. In her lifetime, Bethune was an educator, activist, businesswoman, and political advisor. She was friends to the Roosevelts and referred to by FDR as “The First Lady of the Struggle” for her tireless advocacy for black communities in America. Is it possible to contain all that is Bethune into a single place-setting? A single theatrical performance? Even if not, with incredible artists like these, we’ve come as close as possible.

Flavia Lovatelli is a local artist who created our Supper Table place-setting for Bethune. Passionate about collecting what society typically views as the “throwaways,” she is an artist who creates innovative, imaginative artwork using recycled goods. Originally from Northern Italy, she moved to the states in 1979, where she founded the Art Ecology Group, a movement of sustainable artists. She was one of four artists chosen to represent Sustainable Charlotte during the Democratic National Convention in 2012, and her work has won several awards including the CharlotteArtPop.

As a paper artist, Lovatelli used recycled magazine paper and textbooks for her place-setting, the textbook pages specifically representing Bethune’s passion for education, the foundation of her activism. The color red is prominent within the piece and “represents the strife, anger, passion and fight the African American community have suffered in History which fueled Mary’s causes” while the gold represents Bethune’s work in the political spectrum.

Overall, Lovatelli hopes that from her place-setting, people see the “incredible life, full of achievements and strides Mary McLeod Bethune had.”

Supper Table Flavia final.jpeg

Tasked with using her body and voice to present the life of Bethune is native Columbian, Jocelyn Sanders. Sanders has been actively engaged in theatre ever since graduating from college. She was employed for several years at Trustus Theatre as Box Office Manager. While working with Trustus, she was also one of the original founding instructors of the African American Acting Workshop, which was later renamed the Multi-Ethnic Acting Workshop. She left Trustus and went on to teach; her last teaching position was with Eau Claire High School where she instructed teachers in integrating the arts into their curriculum.

Sanders is a director and an actor, having worked in numerous productions in the city. Some of her most memorable productions she’s directed are Crowns and A Wedding Band, with Trustus Theatre, and A Lesson Before Dying and The Color Purple, with Workshop Theatre.

Jocelyn Sanders

Jocelyn Sanders

Sanders has reflected on how different the times were when Bethune was an activist versus today, and believes that if Bethune were alive now, she would look around and still see a whole lot of work to be done. In her performance, she hopes to show the empowering nature of Bethune when she was alive as well as use it as a challenge to pick up our own crosses today and continue the work she once started.

Lovatelli’s complete place-setting and Sanders’ performance will be available for viewing at both opening events for the Supper Table. Our opening night event is Friday, September 6th, at Trustus Theatre (almost gone!), and tickets start at $50. Our second opening event is Sunday, September 8th, at Harbison Theatre, and tickets start at $15.

 -Christina Xan

The Supper Table is made possible by a generous grant from

Central Carolina Community Foundation

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Supper Table Spotlight: Qiana Whitted and Annette Dees Grevious

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 20th in our series on Supper Table Artists

Qiana Whitted - photo Michael Danzler

Qiana Whitted - photo Michael Danzler

Known by Martin Luther King Jr. as “The Mother of the Movement,” Septima Clark was an educator and civil rights activist who spent her life fighting for literacy and equality for black Americans. Two Supper Table artists had the task of speaking life into Clark’s story, one through written word and the other through spoken.

Qiana Whitted is the literary artist who wrote a non-fiction literary essay about Septima Clark’s life. Whitted is the Director of the African American Studies Program at the University of South Carolina. Her research focuses on African-American literary and cultural studies, American comics, and graphic novels. Her recent book, EC Comics: Race, Shock, and Social Protest, explores representations of race and racism. She is also the author of “A God of Justice?”: The Problem of Evil in Twentieth-Century Black Literature and co-editor of Comics and the U.S. South. Additionally, Whitted is editor of Inks: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society and chair of the International Comic Arts Forum. She is the mother of two children, Naima and Alex.

The following is an excerpt from her essay:

Clark began her career during World War I on Johns Island at a school with over 130 students. Miss Seppie, as the Gullah folk called her, would go on to teach across the Carolinas, from rural classrooms in Mars Hill and McClellanville to Avery Normal Institute in Charleston and Booker T. Washington School in Columbia. After school hours and on weekends, Clark turned her attention to the needs of her students’ parents and grandparents. She helped local residents to write letters and speeches, fill out applications and mail-order forms, and organize sewing circles, immunization drives, and handwriting clinics. While her own training at Avery emphasized a pedagogy that embraced racial uplift ideology and respectability as core values, those early years as a teacher challenged her assumptions about the realities of social and economic inequality and demanded from her a different kind of resourcefulness. Clark gained a profound appreciation for adult literacy training, deploying what historian Katherine Mellen Charron calls “educational camouflage” to transform classroom basics into acts of recognition and resistance against white supremacy. Clark’s experience on Johns Island sowed the seeds for the Citizenship Schools, a grassroots educational initiative in the South that combined practical literacy with voter registration, civics instruction, and community action.

It was Clark’s advocacy on behalf of students and teachers that transformed her into a freedom fighter. Her first steps included taking part in the NAACP campaign to allow black teachers to be hired in Charleston’s public schools. Canvassing door to door with fellow teachers, and even a few sixth-graders, Clark tirelessly gathered signatures for the successful petition. She was inspired by black women activist educators such as Mary McLeod Bethune to expand her reach within teachers’ associations and women’s clubs during the 1930s. She helped to integrate the central board of Charleston’s YWCA and made a point to forge relationships with white-led civic organizations that focused on school reform and health promotion. When it came to education for citizenship, Clark was concerned by the way many Progressive era initiatives encouraged students to exercise their rights without disrupting the status quo of segregation. Therefore, when given the opportunity to develop her own curriculum, Clark modeled her endeavors after local education reformers such as Wil Lou Gray and Booker T. Washington’s principal, C.A. Johnson. She listened closely to the needs of black adult learners, respected their experiential knowledge, and nurtured their aspirations, whether they required help reading the newspaper or understanding election laws.

Annette Dees Grevious

Annette Dees Grevious

Embodying these words in the Supper Table theatrical performance is Annette Dees Grevious. Grevious is an Associate of Professor of Speech and Drama at Claflin University, where she has served as Theatre Program Coordinator and Director of the Theatre Ensemble for 17 years. She received an MFA in Theatre Performance from the University of Louisville and a BA in Theatre from Brenau University. Grevious has been performing professionally for more than two decades. She has performed with and on the following South Carolina theatre companies and stages: Trustus Theatre, Art Forms and Theatre Concepts, Inc., and Motion FilmWorks.

Septima Clark is a name full of such power yet a name so little known. In her performance, Grevious hopes to not only represent the struggles and success of Clark’s life but tell her story in a way that will ensure no one forgets her name again.

To read the rest of Whitted’s essay, located in our book Setting the Supper Table, and to see Grevious’ performance of Septima Clark, come to one of our opening events on either September 6th at Trustus (almost gone!) or September 8th at Harbison.

 

 -Christina Xan

 

Supper Table Spotlight: Christina Xan, assistant project director - by Cindi Boiter

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 19th in our series on Supper Table Artists

Christina reading her own poetry at Girls Block 2019

Christina reading her own poetry at Girls Block 2019

Christina Xan came to the Jasper Project by way of playwright and academician Jon Tuttle who, though he directs the honors program at Francis Marion University and lives in Florence, is a founding member of the Soda Citizen Auxiliary (no, there is no such thing as this). Jon introduced Christina to me when she first came to grad school at USC. The next year, Christina approached me about serving as an intern with Jasper and we were delighted to bring her and all her talents on board.

To say Christina fit right in would be an understatement. To say she pitched right in would be even more of an understatement.

In the year Christina has been involved in the Jasper Project she has risen to every challenge presented to her. An avid blogger, Christina has shared her writing, photographic, graphic design, administrative, editorial, and immense personable skills with Jasper and our friends with generosity and enthusiasm.

When it came time to invite writers to join the Supper Table project as essayists, there was no question in my mind that the young artist should be included. In addition to writing about Eartha Kit, Christina also stepped in when we needed someone to take over writing about Mary McLeod Bethune.

But Christina’s most profound impact on the project has been in her role as assistant project director — in other words, assistant to me. So I know of what I speak. I jokingly say that when Christina came on board (and she actually is on the board of directors for the Jasper Project now) it was like I grew another arm. But that doesn’t really cover it. Having Christina’s assistance has been great, but it has been the gifts she has offered via her insights, contributions, attitude, and enthusiasm that have made the difference in this project. Every time I felt like I was drowning Christina would be there to tap me on the head and remind me the water wasn’t really that deep. Every time she would meet a new artist on the team she suddenly had a new best friend. Her kindness and selflessness have magnified the element of love and mutual appreciation that has so characterized this project tenfold. Working with Christina has been an absolute joy.

Christina and author Dorothy Allison -Deckle Edge 2019

Christina and author Dorothy Allison -Deckle Edge 2019

Christina Xan is a poet, playwright, photographer, and adjunct professor of English. She graduated with an MA from the University of South Carolina, where she is now pursuing her doctorate. Her work has been published by Snow Island Review and Z House Publishing, and her play Glass was turned into a short film that toured SC festivals in 2017. Her art is influenced by her life, as each story contains a different element of herself, and she is inspired by the concepts and questions people usually hide away from.

Christina with FMU mentor Jon Tuttle

Christina with FMU mentor Jon Tuttle

-Cindi Boiter

Supper Table Spotlight: Bohumila Augustinova and Jocelyn Walters-Brannon

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 17th in our series on Supper Table Artists

Bohumila Augustinova - visual artist

Bohumila Augustinova - visual artist

Elizabeth Evelyn Wright lived less than 40 years but accomplished more in that time than most will do in 80. Wright was constantly motivated by the lack of education for her fellow black Americans, and instead of waiting around for a solution, she created one. She opened school after school, and even after those who wanted her to fail burned eight separate schools, she successfully founded what we know today as Voorhees College.

 

Honoring Wright’s journey with her copper-wire place-setting for the Jasper Project’s the Supper Table is visual artist Bohumila Augustinová. Augustinová was born and raised in Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic, but she came to the United States in 1998. She has a degree in fashion design, and after winning Runaway Runway, she quickly became part of the Columbia art scene. In 2015, she took over curating responsibilities at Anastasia and Friends Gallery. Augustinová is the leader of Yarnbombers of Columbia and is the art curator for Motor Supply Company Bistro. She works at the Columbia Art Center where she both makes art and teaches art to others.

 

Augustinová’s place-setting represents several elements of Wright’s life. For example, Elizabeth Evelyn Wright was biracial; she had a black father and a Cherokee mother, so the artist chose two different colors of wire that she wove together. This wire is woven into a flower, the edges of which are shaped like the flames of the arson fires that destroyed many of Wright’s schools, and the center of which represents her final success – Voorhees.

 

 

Supper Table Bohumila.jpg

 

Portraying Elizabeth Evelyn Wright for the theatrical component of the premiere is Jocelyn Walters-Brannon. Walters-Brannon is a South Carolina native and believer in the power of creative individuals to manifest joy and understanding into the world. She serves as Director of The Palmetto School of Protocol and earned a BA in Journalism and MA in Public Administration from the University of Georgia. Walters-Brannon has served on numerous artistic boards and committees, including Trustus Theatre, Columbia Children’s Theatre, Vibrations Dance Company, and the East African based In Movement. Her favorite stage credits include roles in Rent, Ain’t Misbehavin’, and Caroline, or Change.

 

Jocelyn Walters-Brannon

Jocelyn Walters-Brannon

Walters-Brannon finds Wright’s untimely demise particularly interesting. Wright was sick for numerous years before dying at the young age of 34. What she did in that time is testament to what people can do when they put actions to thoughts and words, but it also sparks the question, “What would she have done if she only had time?” This question is driving Walters-Brannon as she finalizes her performance of Wright.

 

To see Augustinová’s place-setting on Wright, Walters-Brannon’s interpretation of her life, and the chance to get a copy of a book or t-shirt, come to one of our opening events on either September 6th at Trustus (going fast!) or September 8th at Harbison.

-By Christina Xan

Supper Table Spotlight: Writer Kristine Hartvigsen and Actor LaTrell Brennan

 

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 16th in our series on Supper Table Artists

Literary Artist Kristine Hartvigsen

Literary Artist Kristine Hartvigsen

Althea Gibson is mostly remembered as a tennis player, and for good reason. She was the first black athlete to break racial barriers of international tennis, specifically when she became the first black American to win a Grand Slam title. Beyond this, though, Gibson was a golfer, a singer, and a woman, a human. She was a black woman trying to be a human being that had access to the same rights and activities as everyone around her, not through activism but through existing and doing her work.

 

The literary artist who captured Gibson’s life for the Supper Table is Kristine Hartvigsen. Former assistant editor of Jasper Magazine as well as a number of publications in the SC Midlands, Hartvigsen is an author who finds beauty in the human condition, using words to express raw stories of love, loss, hurt, anger, lust, envy and more. She currently holds a position at Piedmont Technical College as a public information specialist, but she has done much journalistic work throughout her years. Hartvigsen has had her literary work published in multiple outlets, including State of the Heart, Fall Lines, and more. She authored To the Wren Nesting, a poetry chapbook published by Muddy Ford Press, and she was twice a finalist at the SC Poetry Initiative. She is currently working on her next book, The Soul Mate Poem.

 

The following is an excerpt of Hartvigsen’s essay on Gibson written for the upcoming book, Setting the Supper Table, which will be launched on Friday night, September 6th at the Supper Table premiere event at Trustus Theatre:

 

Singles success at Wimbledon in 1956, however, was not meant to be for Althea. She had unwittingly exhausted herself in the tournaments played on the way to the All England Club. U.S. government officials were pleased overall with Althea’s world tour. She had conducted herself according to traditional conventions and represented her country well. She was more consistent and less nervous. Most importantly, she had done nothing to harm America’s equal rights image around the world. The U.S. Supreme Court had just declared bus segregation unconstitutional, so the country was on a race-relations roll.

 

Fast forward to 1957, arguably the pinnacle year in Althea’s tennis career. She was absolutely focused on Wimbledon above all other tournaments. She wouldn’t make the same mistake twice and made sure to be well trained and well rested before crossing the pond. Before it was all over, Althea was poised in Centre Court facing Darlene Hard in the final. This was the moment. In near triple-digit heat, it took Althea only 50 minutes to overwhelm Hard in two sets and win the singles crown. It seemed almost surreal as officials from the All England Club unfurled the red carpet at courtside, and Queen Elizabeth, who had witnessed it all, approached.

 

As cameras clicked rapid-fire, Althea executed her perfectly practiced curtsey, and Queen Elizabeth shook her hand before presenting the iconic Venus Rosewater platter. She was the first black Wimbledon champion in the tournament’s history. That evening at the time-honored Wimbledon ball, Althea delivered her acceptance speech, saying: “In the words of your own distinguished Mr. Churchill, this is my finest hour. This is the hour I will remember always as the crowning conclusion to a long a wonderful journey.” At the insistence of guests at the ball, Althea sang “If I Loved You” and “Around the World.” It was like a true-life fairy tale.

 

Taking this power and putting into a physical performance is LaTrell Brennan. Brennan is a professional stage, film, and voice over actor with over ten years of experience. She is a Trustus Theatre company member and has been seen in productions such as Silence! The Musical (Ardelia), Fun Home (Joan), Barbecue (Marie), and In the Red and Brown Water (Shun). Some of her film credits include Crosswalk, which won the 2013 Second Act Film Festival Audience Award, and Foundation, which won the 2012 University of South Carolina Campus MovieFest Best Drama Silver Tripod Award. For the latter film, she also won the Best Actress Silver Tripod Award and was a Best Actress Golden Tripod finalist at the 2012 Hollywood Campus MovieFest.

 

LaTrell Brennan

LaTrell Brennan

Theatre artist LaTrell Brennan has been looking back on the life of Althea Gibson and at the nature of her existence to prepare for her role as Gibson in the upcoming performance of Gathering at the Table, the performative aspect of the Supper Table premiere to be held first at Trustus and then at Harbison Theatre on September 6th and 8th respectively. Gibson never wanted to be an activist; she just wanted to play tennis. She wanted to work at what she loved, wanted to be good at it, for what she could do, not for the color of her skin. Yet, everyone expected Althea to be an activist, to use her experiences of racial discrimination to fight back against a country that only wanted her when she was their winner. However, Althea Gibson chose to use her body to fight her own battles instead of her voice to fight others. Whether this is a weakness or a strength or a culmination of both, this is what Brennan hopes to highlight in her performance.

 

To read the rest of Hartvigsen’s essay, located in our book Setting the Supper Table, and to see Brennan’s performance of Althea Gibson, come to one of our opening events on either September 6th at Trustus (going fast!) or September 8th at Harbison.

Supper Table Spotlight: Steffi Brink and Erica Tobolski

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 14th in our series on Supper Table Artists.

It takes a special kind of artist to portray a figure like Eliza Lucas Pinckney with the finesse and beauty Steffi Brink and Erica Tobolski are. Pinckney was a remarkable young woman, both far ahead of, and stuck in the center of, her time. At only 16 years old, a young Eliza Lucas was sent to the South to run her own plantation. Instead of fading away or losing her grip like many in her position might have, she not only succeeded, but became one of the most successful individuals of her time.

Pinckney.jpg

Pinckney was one of the first to discover the importance of the indigo plant and to make it the cash crop in the colonies that it became. While we are forever indebted to her and in awe of her power as a young woman in a male oriented world, we cannot disregard that Pinckney was a slave holder and that it was the forced labor of the enslaved individuals on her plantation that made her success so tangible. In honoring her, we must honor them, the unnamed who made indigo possible, whilst not failing to recognize what an empowering figure and role model Eliza is for young girls.

 

The women creating the film honoring Pinckney and embodying Pinckney herself have been cognizant of this challenge and have worked to reconcile these two parts of Eliza’s life in their own art.

 

Steffi Brink is a visual artist, curator, and film programmer at Indie Grits Labs. She was a photo instructor and organizer for the PhotoVoice project “Seen and Heard: Women and Girls in the Midlands.” Her work has been exhibited at the Columbia Museum of Art and received the People’s Choice Award from the Darkroom Gallery in Vermont. She has a BA in Media Arts from the University of South Carolina and is the recipient of the 2016 USC Photo Review Prize.

Steffi Brink

Steffi Brink

 

Brink’s film on Pinckney features cyanotype, a type of printmaking that makes the final images a stunning blue in color, which echoes, of course, the indigo crop that Pinckney is known for. The images etched into the prints reflect different images and aesthetics of the life of Pinckney, set with words from her own journals and letters.

 

Erica Tobolski is an actor, voice-over artist, and vocal coach. At the Aspen Fringe Festival, she played Nora in Doll’s House Part 2 and Juliana in The Other Place. She has played major roles in productions at Trustus Theatre, Theatre South Carolina and the South Carolina Shakespeare Company. In Chicago, she appeared at Bailiwick Theatre, Strawdog Theatre, and Open City Theatre. Erica has vocal coached at Great River Shakespeare, Utah Shakespeare Festival, and the National Theatre in Malaysia. She is an Associate Professor at USC and a consultant in voice and presence for business professionals.

Erica Tobolski

Erica Tobolski

Together with theatre artists managers, Vicky Saye Henderson and Colleen Kelly, Tobolski is crafting an embodiment of Eliza that reflects both her power and her struggles.

 

Brink’s film and Tobolski’s performance will premiere at our two opening events. Our first event is at Trustus Theatre on the evening of September 6th, and tickets can be purchased here. Our second event is that Sunday afternoon, the 8th, at Harbison Theatre, and tickets are also available for that performance online.

 

-Christina Xan

Supper Table Spotlight: Jennifer Bartell Writes about Elizabeth Evelyn Wright

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 13th in our series on Supper Table Artists

Jennifer Bartell again.jpg

Jennifer Sharain Bartell is a poet and educator, currently teaching at Spring Valley High School in Columbia. She has a BA in English Literature Creative Writing from Agnes Scott College and an MFA in Poetry from the University of South Carolina. Though she loves all forms of creative writing, poetry is her home. She has had literary work published in Jasper Magazine, The Texas Review, and Pluck!: The Affrilachian Journal of Arts and Culture, among others. Bartell is passionate about quality education and equality for all students in South Carolina. You can view her work at www.jenniferbartellpoet.com

 

Bartell was tasked with writing a creative non-fiction essay on Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, a remarkable late 19th century Black woman and educator whose desire to share her passion of knowledge with others never faltered. Bartell writes with painfully true poeticism on how Wright walked from church to church to receive funding for her schools, about how unnamed and un-prosecuted individuals set fire to nearly all of Wright’s schools, and how she still rose above these flames and founded the school we know now as Voorhees College. Bartell writes:

The school was burned. The fire sheriff did not investigate and said the fire was due to a faulty chimney. She went back to Tuskegee to complete her studies, graduated, and returned to Hampton County to establish a school. That school was burned. Next, lumber she intended to use to build a new school building was burned. Her intentions were to build a school for Black people, run by Black people, and supported by Black people.

Her plan was for young men who worked in the fields by day to learn in the school at night. Those young men whose hands picked cotton and cropped tobacco for a few cents a day came at night to pick up a book to gain knowledge.

Her faith commanded her to walk on and so she had her eyes set on an old mill between Cummings and Early Branch. She was going to transform it into a school. Before she could even have her first class in the mill, it was reduced to ashes.

The school was burned. The passive voice lies so well. The school was burned. As if it had lit the match and tossed it on itself. White racist arsonists burned those schools. Ignorance and hate burned those schools. It was prejudice in the hands of white men who burned the schools. It was an unabashed effort to uphold the laws of their ancestors: Keep Blacks illiterate and without knowledge.

She did not fear the fire and did not sit in the ashes of these moments. Instead she used them as motivation. Educating Black children in South Carolina was and still is revolution. Especially since poor white children weren’t getting an education at this time either.

To read Bartell’s full essay on Wright, as well as our other 11 essays, purchase a copy of our book Setting the Supper Table, which launches on Friday, September 6th at Trustus Theatre as part of the premiere of the Supper Table installation, performance, and film premieres. The book will be available via a limited-edition printing for $25 at this event, and tickets are available online now and selling fast: https://suppertable.bpt.me/?fbclid=IwAR1M-iyMQVSXkx3rKiWpwRV3PabqcXmsODCWoaLBQxPm3BLHt7ncQIJxEV8   

Supper Table Spotlight: Sebastian Sowell and Mana Hewitt

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 12th in our series on Supper Table Artists

Mana Debalae Cochran Hewitt is a visual artist with experience in many fields, including that of display artist, illustrator and graphic designer for the military, and senior instructor and director of Undergraduate Studies for the School of Visual Art and Design at the University of South Carolina. Hewitt holds numerous awards for her work, including the South Carolina Arts Commission Artist Fellowship in Crafts. Her work is driven from her passion for process and history, and she is influenced by all the artwork she has had the opportunity to witness and the power of imagination. Her show, Persistence, is currently showing at 701 Whaley.

 

For the Supper Table, Hewitt was tasked with creating a place-setting for the larger than life, Earth Kitt.

Mana Hewitt

Mana Hewitt

Eartha Kitt is a name most people know, whether as the sultry singer of “Santa Baby” or the striking Catwoman in Adam West’s Batman. What some people might not know is that Kitt spent her life being rejected and demonized by those closest to her, from her own mother to the country she lived in. Despite this, Kitt was never afraid to speak her mind and to be authentically herself. She saw herself as a voice for all those ostracized – the reasons for their rejection did not matter; she only sought to stand for others.

Kitt’s varied career and her passion for arts and human beings alike are pervasive in Hewitt’s place-setting. Hewitt as always been interested in metal working as someone who works and thinks with her hands. She has always been “intrigued by metal’s transformation from rigidity to vibrant and fluid designs,” which wonderfully parallels Kitt’s own personal transformations.

 

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Hewitt’s “conception in designing the Eartha Kitt place-setting was to provide as much biographical material as possible.” She made the main brass platter like a clock, onto which she etched twelve circles that each feature momentous occasions in Kitt’s life. The center holds an etched portrait of Kitt herself, and a copper band bearing one of her quotes surrounds her. As the final elements, Hewitt included a chalice and brass flatware with etched copper text; they read: “actress, singer, activist.”  

Hewitt’s place-setting of Kitt is so stunning, and the face of Eartha Kitt so powerful, that we chose it to be the cover of our book, Setting the Supper Table, as well as the art for our t-shirts and tote bags that were once a Kickstarter premium and now will be available at the opening events.  

This place-setting is not the only portrayal of Eartha Kitt’s empowering figure that people will be able to see at our Supper Table event. Sebastian Sowell, local theatre artist, will be portraying Kitt in the theatrical element of the performance on September 6th at Trustus Theatre and September 8th at Harbison Theatre at MTC.

 

Sebastian Sowell

Sebastian Sowell

Sowell is a rising junior musical theatre major and arts administration minor at Winthrop University. Originally from Columbia, South Carolina, she was mainly an orchestral musician before she developed a passion for musical theatre. Her most recent stage productions are Annie Get Your Gun (Annie Oakley), Memphis the Musical (Felicia Farrell), and Fun Home (Joan).

 

To see Hewitt’s place-setting of Kitt, Sowell’s interpretation of her, and the chance to get a copy of a book or t-shirt, come to one of our opening events on either September 6th at Trustus or September 8th at Harbison. Tickets for Trustus are limited and going fast, and are available at the following link: https://suppertable.bpt.me/?fbclid=IwAR1M-iyMQVSXkx3rKiWpwRV3PabqcXmsODCWoaLBQxPm3BLHt7ncQIJxEV8

 

Supper Table Spotlight: Lee Ann Kornegay and Jordan Mullen Honor Eartha Kitt and Mary McLeod Bethune

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 11th in our series on Supper Table Artists

Filmmaker Lee Ann Kornegay

Filmmaker Lee Ann Kornegay

Both Lee Ann Kornegay and Jordan Mullen have special roles in the Supper Table as they are 2 of 12 filmmakers who are making 60-90 second short films on one of the 12 honored women at the table. Both artists have and continue to offer their skills to the project in additional ways.

Kornegay is our official project filmmaker and, as such, she has attended almost every project meeting and event to record the activity associated with the creation of the Supper Table. Kornegay has gone to the artists’ homes to record them while they created their place-settings, and will create a feature length film on the Supper Table demonstrating the process behind the project from inception to realization.

Mullen is our Kickstarter filmmaker. The main video on our Kickstarter was designed, filmed, and edited by Mullen, who continues to help us film and photograph additional Supper Table events.

Filmmaker Jorden Mullen

Filmmaker Jorden Mullen

Jordan Mullen is a recent Media Arts graduate from the University of South Carolina and has an Art Degree from White Knoll High School. She is known around the city for her remarkable work with animation having won Best in Show for her experimental film, “There’s A Monster In My House”.  

Mullen is using her unique animation style to create a film honoring Mary McLeod Bethune. Bethune was an American educator and civil rights activist best known for developing Bethune-Cookman University and co-founding UNCF. She was a national adviser to president Franklin D. Roosevelt who referred to her as "The First Lady of The Struggle" because of her fight for the African American community.

 

Lee Ann Kornegay also graduated from the University of South Carolina with a media arts degree and started working immediately as Broadcast Production Manager for Chernoff/Silver and Associates. In 2000, she took a chance and left this successful career to create L.A. Kornegay, Media Productions, pursuing a life-long goal to direct, shoot, and edit documentaries. Kornegay has won numerous national and local awards including Best Documentary at the Colossal Film Crawl for her film Boloba. This film, as well as many of Kornegay’s other documentaries, have aired on SCETV. Since 2008, she has served as Marketing/Public Relations Director for 701 Whaley.

Kornegay is creating a film on the powerhouse South Carolinian Eartha Kitt. She has recently been conducting research by traveling to Kitt’s hometown (near North, SC) and exploring it for herself. Kitt was a singer, actress, and dancer known for her still loved Christmas song "Santa Baby" and her role as Catwoman in Adam West’s Batman. Kitt was also a social activist who was never afraid to speak her mind and stand up for anyone who she felt was discriminated against, even if it meant taking putting herself in harm’s way.

Kornegay and Mullen’s films will premiere in September, but right now our Kickstarter has a limited opportunity to become a Film Sponsor. As Film Sponsor, you will be listed as the exclusive producer for the film of your choice. For only $300, you get this plus two tickets to our Harbison installation & show as well as a dedication to the SC woman of your choice to be included in the book, Setting the Supper Table..

 

These premiums are not only going fast – Kitt’s film has been sponsored while Bethune’s film is available – but the Kickstarter has less than 24 hours before it closes out.

 

To sponsor Mullen’s film on Bethune or one of the other 8 available films, click on the following link no later than noon tomorros (Wednesday, July 31st) Jasperproject/the-supper-table?ref=user_menu

 https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thejasperproject/the-supper-table

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Supper table Spotlight: SC Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth Honors Alice Childress

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 10th in our series on Supper Table Artists

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I consider myself quite fortunate to have seen Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party installation when my husband and I were living in Scotland, where it was featured in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe during the summer of 1984.  The sheer magnitude of the work was overwhelming, and the enormous dining table which anchored the exhibit served as a powerful visual metaphor.  Many of the women honored there were unfamiliar to me, but they certainly deserved a place at the glorious table!       

So, I was particularly thrilled to participate in the Jasper Project’s The Supper Table Project. Cindi Boiter’s concept of focusing on 12 South Carolina women who devoted their lives to positive change is a brilliant way to pay tribute to the 40th anniversary of Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party. I was even more thrilled to have the opportunity to research and write about Alice Childress – a writer I had always wanted to know more about.  This award-winning writer deserves to be better known and read by a larger audience, and her plays should be seen around the world.  Many of Alice Childress’ plays are rooted in the South Carolina low country, and her characters are working-class African Americans struggling against systemic racism.  These are voices that can teach us so much about the present day. Childress was a ground breaking African American artist, and she should be celebrated and honored for her multitude of achievements. She paved the way for so many others, particularly African American women playwrights and actresses.  I am grateful for the opportunity to shine a spotlight on this extraordinary American icon.             

I love the way The Supper Table Project brings together so many of South Carolina’s working visual artists, writers, filmmakers, and performers.  This community of amazing women deserves the support of everyone in the Palmetto State who supports the arts and the rich culture of our home place. 

—Marjory Wentworth  

~~~

MARJORY WENTWORTH is the New York Times bestselling author of Out of Wonder, Poems Celebrating Poets (with Kwame Alexander and Chris Colderley). She is the co-writer of We Are Charleston, Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel, with Herb Frazier and Dr. Bernard Powers and Taking a Stand, The Evolution of Human Rights, with Juan E. Mendez.  She is co-editor with Kwame Dawes of Seeking, Poetry and Prose inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green, and the author of the prizewinning children’s story Shackles.  Her books of poetry include Noticing Eden, Despite Gravity, The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle and New and Selected Poems. Her poems have been nominated for The Pushcart Prize six times. She is the current poet laureate of South Carolina. Wentworth is a Senior Fellow at the Global Social Justice Practice Academy.  She teaches courses in writing, social justice and banned books at The College of Charleston.

 Please support the Supper Table in the last few hours of our Kickstarter campaign by visiting https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thejasperproject/the-supper-table

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Supper Table Spotlight: Claudia Smith Brinson Honors Charleston's Grimke Sisters - Sarah and Angelina

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 9th in our series on Supper Table Artists

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The word “honor” comes up so often for me these days as the Supper Table enters its last month of preparation and, in light of the political climate we are living in, it is such a wave of relief, such a respite for the soul, to find myself surrounded by so many honorable women who want to honor others.

Claudia Smith Brinson is a perfect example of the breath-of-fresh-air kind of person I’m talking about. Claudia Smith Brinson was a senior lecturer and program coordinator of the Writing for Print and Digital Media major at Columbia College in Columbia, S.C. She worked as a journalist for 30 years, mostly for Knight Ridder, and was honored with more than three dozen state and regional awards. She was a Pulitzer Prize finalist as a member of the team covering Hurricane Hugo. She also writes short stories and has won an O.Henry. Claudia is at work on a book on the untold stories of civil rights activists in South Carolina.

Claudia was charged with writing a third-person, creative non-fiction essay about the Grimke Sisters—Sarah and Angelina—from Charleston who became abolitionists and human rights activists for most of the 19th century. Claudia writes with painful candor about the world of slavery the sisters bore witness to and their early decision to leave their churches, join with the Quakers in Philadelphia, and eventually, be disappointed with Quakers and organized religion in general.

What must arise in the heart and head that allows you to see all about you are morally and ethically wrong? What does it take to act? And to continue despite condemnation and abuse? What is in you that allows you to think and act hundreds of years ahead of your time? The brilliance of sisters Sarah Moore Grimke and Angelina Emily Grimke force these questions on us, as well as the frustrating realization that we have yet to meet their standards of equality and goodness.

Brinson continues:

The prisons of gender and color were asphyxiating: Only white men could vote. The enslaved were owned but owned nothing, including their own bodies. Enslaved women were vulnerable to rape; any children born to them, no matter whom the father, were born enslaved and could be sold. Free white women lived under the control of their fathers, and, once married, had no legal identity. Free married women were considered one with the husband; any property, inheritance, income, or ensuing children fell the man under the law of coverture. Poor free women might work as cooks, domestics, seamstresses, and assistants to tradesmen and shopkeepers, but income they made belonged to their husbands. During the sisters’ adulthood, fewer than fifteen percent of women worked outside a household. Not only the law but Christianity confined them: Slaveholders used the Bible to justify white male control of sisters, daughters, wives, and the enslaved.

How does a person, then, gain a sense of her own humanity and her right to have rights? How does a woman find her own self and her life’s meaning when selfhood is denied? And how does she then apply that not only to herself but to others in extremis? The Grimke sisters developed young a repugnance and resistance to cruelty and abuse, to repression and denial while all around them people of their race acclimated. The sisters seem, perhaps through their quests for education and a nondiscriminatory religious community, to have fostered their awareness against odds and opposition into an individuality that knew right from wrong – despite the rules of their times, religion, and country – and also into an individuality that fought for what was right – despite the countering messages of gender, society, and law. To say they were geniuses is exclusionary; they eventually found a like-minded community in women such as Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. To call them prophets is depressing; much of what they called for has yet to come to pass.

Claudia Smith Brinson’s full essay on the Grimke Sisters will appear in our book, Setting the Supper Table, which launches on Friday, September 6th at Trustus Theatre as part of the premiere of the Supper Table installation, performance, and film premieres, then moves to Harbison theatre at MTC for on Sunday September 8th for a performance and installation. Setting the Supper Table will be available via a limited edition printing for $25, but you can secure your copy now by contributing to the Supper Table Kickstarter campaign — which closes in less than two days—at the $50 and above levels.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thejasperproject/the-supper-table?ref=user_menu

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Supper Table Spotlight: Candace Wiley Honors Modjeska Simkins and Matilda Evans

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 8th in our series on Supper Table Artists

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Candace G. Wiley is the co-founding director of The Watering Hole, a non-profit organization that brings a hint of Harlem-Renaissance to the modern South. She is a South Carolina native who graduated with her B.A from Bowie State University, her MA from Clemson University, and her MFA from the University of South Carolina where she graduated as a Dickey Fellow.

 

Wiley’s writings create striking imagery and invoke imagination, and she frequently writes in the style of Afrofuturism, introducing themes from mutants to mermaids. Whether fiction or non-fiction, she always brings her raw imagining of individuals’ lives to the table. She is a Vermont Studio Center Fellow, Lighthouse Works Center Fellow, Fine Arts Work Center Fellow and Callaloo Fellow.

 

Wiley joins our Supper Table team as one of our literary artists, where she has done incredible work honoring not just one, but two different women, each with their own essay: Modjeska Monteith Simkins and Matilda Evans.

 

Modjeska Simkins was a matriarch of civil rights in South Carolina and a leader in African-American public health and social reform, specifically in Columbia. Simkins referred to herself as a human rights activist, and that she was.

 

The following is an excerpt from Wiley’s essay on Simkins:

Throughout her career, Modjeska helped launch the multi-racial Southern Negro Youth Congress (SYNC). The organization’s pact starts, “We, Negro and White young people, one thousand strong, do hereby declare our common purpose, to build a new and democratic South.” Modjeska ran for office; raised funding for renovations to the Good Samaritan-Waverly Hospital, Columbia’s Black hospital; hosted a weekly Civil Rights radio show called, “I woke up this morning with my mind set on freedom,” which she paid for out of pocket; equalized white collar jobs for Black WPA workers; and rectified the gross mistreatment of Black mental health patients. In Columbia’s segregated Black mental institution, female patients weren’t provided shoes, underwear, or gowns; were housed in leaky, dirty, unscreened buildings; had no psychiatrists; and Black female patients were forced to bathe and help dress the White patients at the White mental institution, while Black male patients worked the yard.

 

After Judge Waring was forced to retire and leave the state, he invited Modjeska to his New York home. Public sentiment had turned on him when he left his first wife of thirty years, who was Charleston aristocracy, and married his second wife, a Yankee matron who turned him against all forms of discrimination. 

 

“So you’re still in Carolina? You haven’t had any trouble?” He asked Modjeska.

 

“Well they shot up my hotel a few times, bombed my brother’s yard, called the house with threats. I belonged to all kind of organizations that were labeled communist fronts, so I've been Red-Smeared up and down South Carolina.” Modjeska tossed her hands.

 

“Not bad, huh?”

 

“Not bad.”

 

Like Simkins, Matilda Evans was a prominent human rights activist. The state’s second licensed black female doctor, she took care of not only black patients who could not receive care from white doctors, but also of white patients who came to her because of caring, open-minded spirit.

 

The following is Wiley’s imagining of Evans in her own essay:

 

Imagine Matilda reaching out to her powerful contacts. Taking tea in some fancy living room, the ice tinkles the glass when she tilts it forward for a kiss. Affable as always, she’d assert, "You, sir, have truly been an honest blessing from the Lord. It’s people like you who could even make heaven a better place." Just a little butter over bread. "Even the way you threw your resources into furnishing St. Luke’s, you are a man of action."

"What really concerns me is your beautiful family." His face would have frozen. His eyebrow perched. Was it a warning? A threat? "Jenny, Katie, and Davey, they are so happy and innocent, but I’ve seen illness firsthand." He would have tilted his head to the side, hesitant to ask for more information.

"I don’t know how the health of Negro children isn’t a concern to all of us. What infects the child infects the mother. Then the mother, in her infinite sense of responsibility, returns to her domestic employ, cooking for a wonderful White family like yours, dressing the children, grooming the mistress of the house, and the epidemic spreads through sheer love. Isn’t it awful?" It wasn’t a threat. There was kindness in her eyes. Her manners were impeccable. The way she might’ve tinked the spoon around her glass, in sweet tea that didn’t need stirring. There was no hint of anger or frustration.

"It’s a conundrum really. Germs know no color line." Matilda would’ve sat comfortably, occasionally lifting her eyes from her glass. She wouldn’t mention the specific cases of ringworm or scabies she’d seen. He would be well aware that Tuberculosis was ravaging Black Columbians.

He would’ve leaned back in his chair and smirked, amused at how she’d so easily played his emotions, yet interested in her solution.

You can find the completed versions of these essays, as well as the other 10 essays by our wonderful literary artists, in our upcoming book Setting the Supper Table. Early access to copies of this book are included in several of our premiums on our Kickstarter, along with other opportunities such as being listed as the executive producer on one of our films or sponsoring a place-setting honoring one of our 12 women at the table.

If you’re interested in one of our premiums, act fast. Half of the place-settings have already been sponsored, and the campaign only has four days left. You can secure your seat at the table here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thejasperproject/the-supper-table?ref=user_menu

 

 

 

Supper Table Spotlight: Heidi Darr-Hope

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 7th in our series on Supper Table Artists

Heidi Darr-Hope (photo: Alexis Schwallier for Jasper)

Heidi Darr-Hope (photo: Alexis Schwallier for Jasper)

We were so delighted when Heidi Darr-Hope agreed to join the Supper Table Arts Team. Heidi brings such a sense of intention to everything she does that we knew her participation would result in not just a beautiful place-setting, but a grounding presence among all the artists.

Having worked as a professional artist for over 40 years, Darr-Hope has accumulated many accolades.  She’s proudest of the Elizabeth O'Neil Verner Award – South Carolina’s highest awards in the arts. Her work’s been exhibited and collected around the globe and are influenced by her enthusiastic passion for travel, her quest to understand her nighttime dreams, and her longing to find the quiet in the roar.  Her artworks are expressions of the universal search for meaning.  

Heidi was charged with creating a Supper Table place-setting to honor Sarah and Angelina Grimke, two antebellum sisters from Charleston who went on to become ardent abolitionists and human rights activists.

We knew Heidi would enjoy the process of gathering and assembling the items with which she would create her place-setting, but we were not prepared for the detail the artist put into her project.

In her own words, we’d like to share Heidi’s take on using her art to honor these important SC sisters.

Everyday Family “Heirlooms”

I come from a strong matriarchal lineage – determined, outspoken, liberal independent thinkers.  To represent the Grimke Sisters, I used heirlooms from that lineage - things passed down to me – the china, crystal and silver, the hand embroidered linens and lacework and even the wooden bowl which, growing up, my mother dished up our Saturday night spaghetti dinners in.

The Placemat

Collaged newspaper clippings featuring The Sisters bold abolitionist and equal rights protests comprise the "placemat.”   Their powerful words cradle the visual content of this piece.  “The ground upon which you stand is holy ground; never, never surrender it.  These are causes worth dying for.”

Women Unite, the Writing Quill, Nest and Eggs

Around the inside rim of the wooden bowl are the women who rallied behind The Sisters. Their weapons in this fight were their intellect and wordsmanship.   The writing quill is constructed from a dove feather I found walking in my neighborhood and the nib was given to me by my friend Eileen Blyth.  Her father collected them.  I wanted to give a nod to the men who support these causes as Angelina’s husband, Theodore Weld, did.  Books and knowledge are what fed Sarah and Angelina’s spirits.  They passionately shared these ideas for the advancement of social change, committed to ushering in a new life for the disenfranchised.  The Sisters worked tirelessly to build a secure nest to hold these ideals.

Book of Dreams and Binding Chains

Tucked underneath the bowl is a small book entitled Dreams.  The sisters dreamed of a new societal order, despite the monumental obstacles that stood in their way.  They were determined to break the chains binding the freedom to follow one's individual dreams.

Golden Hearts Within Us All and the Love Purse

Through their faithfulness in the Quaker principals, the Grimke Sisters believed God is found in the hearts of every single human.   In the center of the bowl, the image of The Sisters, clothed in simple evergreen smocks, depicts their hearts radiating a warm, golden, spiritual glow.  They deeply believed that as disciples of God it was their duty to respect and care for all.  To this end, Sarah kept a “love purse” with her at all times.  It contained the savings she made when she always opted for the less expensive purchase.  The difference between what she could afford and what she bought, went into her love purse. There was always someone who needed something, and she gladly made sure they got it.  The love purse can be found tucked just behind the book of dreams.  The coins inside the love purse are duplications of the coins Sarah devotedly saved in her efforts to make the world a better place.

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Napkins, Fork, Spoon, Knife, Shattered China and a Wooden Bowl

Sarah and Angelina were not nourished and fed by the culture they were raised in.  The napkins are blood stained and silverware is bound, rendering them unusable.  The formal china is shattered symbolizing the conventions the sisters rebelled against.  They longed and fought for a culture that honored an equality where all genders and races could be fed respectfully.  The upside-down teacup symbolizes how they gave up the traditions they were born into, in favor of building a new life.  Balanced on top of this, is a crystal goblet nesting this potential life.  The simple wooden bowl holds all these hopes and dreams.

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Please mark your calendars for the weekend of September 6th when we will celebrate Heidi and all the other talented women in the Supper Table Arts Team.

And please consider supporting us as we enter our last few days of fundraising via our Kickstarter campaign. You’re invited to be a part of something truly extraordinary. We have a place for you at the table.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thejasperproject/the-supper-table

Supper Table Spotlight: Emmy-Nominated Filmmaker Laura Kissel Honors Modjeska Monteith Simkins

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 6th in our series on Supper Table Artists.

Filmmaker Laura Kissel

Filmmaker Laura Kissel

Columbia native Laura Kissel is an Emmy nominated documentary filmmaker. Kissel’s work explores contemporary social, cultural and political landscapes through multiple film genres, specifically the use of orphan films.

 

Kissel has nearly 20 films to her name including short documentaries Tan Mian Hua and Window Cleaning in Shanghai which both premiered at the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar in 2011 and were included in The Flaherty’s touring festival City Symphonies in 2011-2012. Her most recent feature length documentary, Cotton Road, is about the global supply chain of cotton; the film follows cotton’s life cycle, alongside human labor, as it travels from farms to consumers. The film has won eight festival awards and been translated into four languages.

 

Named the South Carolina Arts Commission’s Media Arts Fellow for 2007-2008 Kissel has received numerous fellowships and grants for her work, including a Fulbright Award, a MacDowell Fellowship, funding from the South Carolina Humanities Council and the Fledgling Fund. Currently, she is a professor of Media Arts and Film at the University of South Carolina where she also serves as the Director of the School of Visual Art and Design.

 

We’re honored that Kissel has joined us in our project. For the Supper Table, she is creating a film to honor the pervasively influential Modjeska Monteith Simkins.

 

Modjeska Simkins was, as the National Park Service refers to her, “the matriarch of the Civil Rights Movement in South Carolina.” She was a leader in African-American public health and social reform across the state, specifically in Columbia. Simkins referred to herself as a human rights activist, and that she was.

 

Simkins lived a life of power and turmoil. She was the Director of Negro Work for the South Carolina Tuberculosis Association before she was fired for her increased involvement in the NAACP. For this same involvement, unnamed individuals shot at her house in the mid 1900s, despite which Simkins remained unwavering. Any fear she may have had, she did not show, instead allowing it to propel her forward into defending the rights of those who did not have the opportunity to use their voices in the way she used hers. 

 

Kissel’s film will be unveiled, with 11 others, at the Supper Table’s premiere events at Trustus Theatre this September 6th and Harbison Theatre on the 8th.

 

On our Kickstarter campaign, at the $300 level, Laura Kissel’s film on Modjeska Simkins is available to sponsor. In sponsoring this, you will become the film’s exclusive producer, plus you will receive tickets to see the films at the Harbison event. 3 of the 12 films are already sponsored, and our Kickstarter only has a week left, so if you want this opportunity, click on the following link to claim it: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thejasperproject/the-supper-table?ref=user_menu

 - Christina Xan

 

 

 

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Supper Table Spotlight: Eva Moore and Laurie Brownell McIntosh Honor Eliza Lucas Pinckney

We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 4th in our series on Supper Table Artists.

Paper Mache Bowl with Indigo Ink, hand-dyed indigo napkin, and indigo branch flatware by Laurie Brownell McIntosh

Paper Mache Bowl with Indigo Ink, hand-dyed indigo napkin, and indigo branch flatware by Laurie Brownell McIntosh

Each of the 12 (actually 13 with the Grimke sisters) honored & historical women seated at the Supper Table is being celebrated by four different artists including a visual artist, a literary artist who writes an essay about the subject for the book Setting the Supper Table, a filmmaker who creates a 90 second film, and a theatrical artist who will perform a staged oration during our premiere in September.

Laurie Brownell McIntosh and Eva Moore are, respectively the visual and literary artists honoring Eliza Lucas Pinckney, the colonial entrepreneur who, with the vital assistance of the enslaved individuals who were attached to the Pinckney plantations, cultivated and developed indigo as a cash crop accounting for 1/3 of the total exports from the colony.

About her place-setting McIntosh writes, “I sought guidance on all things indigo from South Carolina, indigo dye artist, Caroline Harper. I attended two workshops with her to learn the growing and dying process used in dying fabrics with traditional indigo. She supplied me with some of her precious South Carolina grown indigo pigment that she and her husband harvest and produce yearly... as well as the seed and roots from the plant.”

McIntosh continues, “All of the blue you see in my piece is made from this dye mixed with different paint mediums. (the exception being the writing on the bowl... that is just dark blue ink... after many tries I realized I could not get the consistency to flow freely enough for handwriting). The yellows in my piece represent the middle phase of the dying process. Once the fabric is submerged into the dye vat of the indigo mixture the fabric surprisingly turns yellow and stays this way until it is pulled from the vat and the oxygen turns it the rich dark blue associated with indigo. The three apothecary bottles in the setting represent this graduated process.”

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Eva Moore is a Columbia-based writer who cares about food, local government, and outdoor places. The former editor of Columbia’s Free Times newspaper, she now works in state government. In her eloquent look at the controversial Eliza Lucas Pinckney’s contributions, Moore writes, “At Wappoo plantation, where Eliza lived when she first came to South Carolina, her family enslaved 20 people. In later years there would be more. … Eliza Lucas Pinckney lived a remarkable and fortunate life, but did so at the expense of other lives.”

Moore continues, “Indigo is not like other natural dyes. It doesn’t come out of the indigo plant easily; in fact it doesn’t come directly out of the plant at all. After harvesting, the leaves must be pounded and fermented over hours or days to create a chemical reaction. Depending on who you ask, fermenting indigo smells like ammonia, urine, cow poop or wet dog, and the odor is so intense that the fermentation must be done well away from places where people live and eat. Done at a large scale, it can attract flies and other insects.”

“In colonial South Carolina, in the mid-1700s, indigo processing took place during the hot summer and fall,” she writes.

“It’s hard to comprehend the horrors of the process, because lately, indigo dyeing has made its way into the boutique textile category in South Carolina. … Eliza Pinckney almost certainly didn’t pound the indigo leaves or stir the stinking vats. She didn’t till the ground, or weed the fields, or harvest the leaves. That work was done by people enslaved by her family.“

To read more of this fascinating essay and 11 others, be sure to reserve your copy of Setting the Supper Table at the $50 sponsorship level or above on the Supper Table’s Kickstarter campaign page at https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thejasperproject/the-supper-table.

Supper Table Spotlight: B. A. Hohman Honors Julia Peterkin

We’re kicking off our series of spotlights on our Supper Table artists by looking at one of our visual artists: local painter and muralist B.A. Hohman.

B.A. Hohman

B.A. Hohman

A visual artist who views art as her grounding force, B.A. Hohman promotes the creativity found in each of us through her work. Hohman graduated cum laude from Ohio University with a Studio Art degree, focusing on painting, and she has received an Art Education certification from Roberts Wesleyan in Churchville, NY.

Though Hohman has worked in many fields, from retail to being a public art teacher, she has always been a working artist often focusing on murals and trompe l’oiel paintings.

For the Supper Table, Hohman was tasked with creating an art piece representative of prolific author, Julia Peterkin, who wrote about life in the Jim Crow South and worked to preserve the Gullah language. Peterkin, a white woman, lived from 1880-1961, and in that time, she wrote a plethora of novels, one of which would go on to win a Pulitzer Prize. As Hohman recalls The Paris Exposition that helped launch the Art Deco style had taken place just four years prior to Peterkin’s first dive into writing. This inspired Hohman as she created her place setting.    

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Hohman’s place setting starts with a place-mat made of vintage black velvet bordered by hand tatted lace, which was handed down to her from her great aunts. She chose to add this lace trim completely by hand, which she feels reflects Peterkin’s social status. She made the copper flatware from pieces she’d saved and repurposed, and she then added the mug and copper colored charger. For Hohman, these pieces represent Julia’s flaming red hair and indefatigable spirit.

Since the focus and center of Peterkin’s writing and goals was her own depiction of the Gullah customs, language and beliefs, Hohman embellished the center of the plate with woodcut styled representations of images both from Peterkin’s books and from the artist’s own imagination. The plate is bordered with an aforementioned Art Deco design. Hohman states that her overall attempt was to “convey the conundrum that was Julia Peterkin.”

On what makes Peterkin so inspiring, Hohman says, “the title of one of Julia’s biographies is, A Devil and a Good Woman. I found this fitting. She was a force to be reckoned with, yet she managed to expand the consciousness of her audience by humanizing and preserving for posterity, the Gullah way of life.”

All in all, Hohman views art as a necessity of life. In her work both on the Supper Table and in general, she asks the question: what would we know of our world were it not for the depictions, be they visual, spoken, written or musical?

Hohman contributes to gallery showings, restaurant displays and the occasional public mural, but you can currently view her work at her Facebook page: Art & Murals by B.A.

To see Hohman’s work on Julia Peterkin, join us at one of our Supper Table events this September. Information on tickets and other premiums is available on our Kickstarter page. Donating not only grants you access to early showings and sponsorship opportunities, but it also goes straight to supporting our artists, like B.A.

Check it out at the following link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thejasperproject/the-supper-table?ref=user_menu

Christina Xan

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We're Setting the Supper Table & You'll Be Able to Feed Your Soul There Soon - A Message from Cindi

 

The Supper Table – Honored Subjects

Mary McLeod Bethune Alice Childress

Septima Clark Matilda Evans

Althea Gibson Angelina and Sarah Grimke

Eartha Kitt Sarah Leverette

Julia Peterkin Eliza Pinckney

Modjeska Monteith Simkins Elizabeth Evelyn Wright

Laurie Brownell McIntosh’s place-setting inspired by Eliza Lucas Pinckney whose development and cultivation of indigo accounted for 1/3 of colonial SC’s economy prior to the Revolutionary War.

Laurie Brownell McIntosh’s place-setting inspired by Eliza Lucas Pinckney whose development and cultivation of indigo accounted for 1/3 of colonial SC’s economy prior to the Revolutionary War.

It’s all coming together.

More than 10 year ago I started having this dream of using Judy Chicago’s iconic feminist arts installation, The Dinner Party, as a model for an arts project that would honor some of the amazing women from South Carolina history whose work in the arts, sciences, education, business, athletics, and human rights literally — and usually without a lot of fanfare — changed the course of human history. I realized that 2019 would be the 40th anniversary of Chicago’s project and, about 4 years ago, decided to try to make this fantasy a reality using the structure of the Jasper Project to do so. It was terrifying. I appreciate so dearly all the people I spoke to who, when I told them how terrified I was said, “yes, you’re supposed to be” because there are any number of times I might have chickened out had they not.

But with the support and advice of people who are smarter and more experienced than I am, especially my board of directors at the Jasper Project, I jumped in. Central Carolina Community Foundation was kind enough to invest in us with a Connected Communities Grant funding almost two thirds of the project. Friend and arts patron Bill Schmidt stepped up as soon as I told him about the plans and committed to sponsoring not just a place-setting (he chose the Grimke Sisters) but also a third of the table itself. But more importantly, he gave me his faith and he shared the project with others.

THANKS, BILL SCHMIDT!

THANKS, BILL SCHMIDT!

So, I was off!

The first thing I needed to do was to gather together the first two groups of artists — the visual and literary artists — as well as to find a woman to build the actual table for the Supper Table. I can’t remember who recommended the amazing Jordan Morris to me but, whoever it was, thank you.

Jordan is the Maker Coordinator at Richland Library and has been a maker most of her life. Grade school consisted of macaroni ornaments and sugar cube igloos, but it wasn’t until she met an inspiring high school teacher that her creative mind was ignited and took flight. That journey continued on through college at the University of South Carolina where she earned a BFA in sculpture. She continued with ceramic work and expanded into woodworking and computer numerical control production. Jordan’s professional journey led her to an art museum, tech startup, and teaching, but nothing felt quite like home until landing at Richland Library as the Maker Coordinator in February 2016.

Jordan rose to the challenge of creating the table for the Supper Table magnificently, integrating a Southern aesthetic into her design all the way down to the wood she chose. I couldn’t be happier with her finished product.

Supper Table Jordan Morris.jpg

On January 20th of this year we brought together the 25 literary and visual artists who would inaugurate the Supper Table project with their work on place-settings and essays honoring the 12 women at the Supper Table. Over the next few weeks we will be posting daily blogs featuring these artists and the gifts they have brought and are bringing to the project.

While the essays and place-settings are complete there is still much work to be done before we premiere the project on September 6th at Trustus Theatre and move the next day to Harbison Theatre at MTC for our first installation.

The film artists are all at work now under the direction of Mahkia Greene, and Vicky Saye Henderson is casting the actors who will portray out 12 honored women in the theatrical productions.

Kathryn Van Aernum has taken all the photos for the book and the poster and is working on those now.

We still need to frame the 12 portraits Kirkland Smith created which will accompany the installation and we are working on our walls to display the 120 tiles created for our Array of Remarkable SC Women by Brenda Oliver, Bohumila Augustinova, and Diane Hare and embellished by local women and girls.

Lee Ann Kornegay is working on a long-form film that won’t even be ready to view until spring 2020.

I’m editing constantly with the help of assistant project director Christina Xan, who will also be sharing some blogs with you.

So, please stay tuned as we roll out as much information and celebration as we can through summer’s end and into the fall.

The Supper Table will be touring in 2020 and we’d love to talk to you about bringing the installation, along with the book, films, portraits, and tiles your way.

But most importantly, we really need your help raising funds to put some change in the pockets of these artists who are honoring these amazing 12 women from SC. You can sponsor a place-setting, a tile, a film, or the portrait collection or you can share this info and link with someone with the resources to do so.

Here’s the link: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/thejasperproject/the-supper-table

Thanks for helping us along.

The plate from Mana Hewitt’s place-setting honoring the legendary Eartha Kitt.

The plate from Mana Hewitt’s place-setting honoring the legendary Eartha Kitt.

Jasper Project Announces Names of Women Honored for the Supper Table's Array of Remarkable SC Women

Become a part of the Jasper Project’s most ambitious multi-disciplinary project thus far in one of two ways:

Women and girls are invited to join Jasper on one of six occasions to paint tiles honoring an Array of Remarkable SC Women

Support the Supper Table by sponsoring a tile ($100), educational panel ($300), place-setting ($1000), or table segment ($3000)

(see below)

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The Supper Table – An Array of Remarkable SC Women, Categorized by Contribution

 

Activists & Politicians

These women spent/have spent their lives fiercely advocating for what they believe in either through the work they do or by working in government positions.

 

  • Bambie Gaddist, M.D. (September 21, 1955 – present) HIV/AIDS activist; Executive Director of The South Carolina HIV/AIDS Council.

  • Bernice Robinson (February 7, 1914 – September 3, 1994) activist in the Civil Rights Movement and education proponent who helped establish adult Citizenship Schools in South Carolina; first African American woman to run for a political office in the state.

  • Candy Waites (February 21, 1943 – present) former president of the League of Women Voters of Columbia; served on Richland County Council for twelve years; former State Representative for House District 75 

  • Elizabeth Hawley Gasque Van Exern (February 26, 1186 – November 2, 1989) Congresswoman elected into the House of Representatives on September 13, 1938; first woman elected into Congress for the state of South Carolina.

  • Gertrude Sanford Legendre (March 29, 1902 – March 8, 2000) American socialite who served with the American spy agency, Office of Strategic Services, during WWII; owner of Medway plantation in South Carolina; known as a noted explorer, big-game hunter and environmentalist.

  • Gilda Cobb-Hunter (November 5, 1952 – present) Democratic member of the South Carolina House of Representatives, representing District 66 in Orangeburg County; first African American woman to be elected into the State House for this county.

  • Harriet Hancock (Unknown) Co-founder of the South Carolina Pride Movement and longtime activist. The Harriet Hancock LGBT Center is named after her, offering a supportive meeting space for those of the LGBTQ+ community.

  • Harriet Keyserling (Unknown – December 10, 2010) First woman to represent Beaufort in the South Carolina Legislature; an advocate for Women’s rights who advocated for the arts and environment.

  • Harriet McBryde Johnson (July 8, 1957 – June 4, 2008) Disability rights activist who was disabled due to a neuromuscular disease; American author and attorney who was named Person of the Year by New Mobility.

  •  Irene Dillard Elliott (August 7, 1892 – April 5, 1978) The first Dean of Women at the University of South Carolina; involved in many civic, educational and cultural organizations.

  •  Jane Edna Harris Hunter (December 13, 1882 – January 13, 1971) African American social worker and founder of the Phillis Wheatley Association of Cleveland, formally known as the Working Girls Association.

  •  Janie Glymph Goree (Unknown – January 2009) Political activist who was elected the first African American female Mayor in South Carolina.

  • Jean Toal (August 11, 1943 – present) First woman and Roman Catholic to serve as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of South Carolina.

  • Keller Barron (Unknown – present) Actively involved in the League of Women Voters where she has served as local and state League president, Barron advocates women’s rights, voters’ rights, improved race relations and education reform.

  • Linda Ketner (May 12, 1950 – present) philanthropist who was a candidate for U.S. House of Representatives from South Carolina’s 1st congressional districts; activist for the LGBTQ community, women, and affordable housing.

  • Malissa Burnette (Unknown – present) Certified specialist in employment law; has a history of fighting for cases that involve discrimination, civil and constitutional rights, sexual harassment, breach of contract, non-compete agreements, wage claims, and academic tenure and promotions issues.

  • Marian Wright Edelman (June 6, 1939 – present) President and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund; activist for children’s rights.

  • Marjorie Hammock (January 24, 1936 – Present) Licensed clinical social worker in Columbia, South Carolina; former President of both the SC Chapter NASW and the Columbia Chapter of the National Association of Black Social Workers; social justice advocate.

  • Nancy Barton (Unknown - present) Founder and Executive Director of Sistercare, an organization who provides services and advocates for domestic violence survivors and their children.

  • Nancy Stevenson (June 8, 1928 – May 31, 2001) American politician who served as Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina from 1979 – 1983; first woman to be elected to the South Carolina statewide office.

  • Nekki Shutt (Unknown – present) attorney and activist from Columbia, South Carolina; honored as Lawyer of the Year for 2019.

  • Nikki Haley (January 20, 1972 – present) The first female governor for South Carolina who went on to serve as United States Ambassador to the United Nations; governor who took down the Confederate Flag at the State House.

  • Reshma Kahn (Unknown – present) Founder and Executive Director of the Shifa Free Clinic; passionate about serving the uninsured at the same level of the insured.

  • Ruth Ann Butler (Unknown – present) Civil rights icon and founder of the Greenville Cultural Exchange; worked to preserve the history of African American stories. 

  • Sarah Mae Flemming (June 28, 1933 – June 16, 1993) African American woman expelled from a bus in Columbia, SC, for refusing to give her seat up, several months before Rosa Parks. Her lawsuit played a massive role in the Parks case months later.

  • Susan Dunn (Unknown – present) Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Carolina; a fierce advocate for the advancement of women in the practice of law.

  • Tamika Gadsden (Unknown – present) State leader of the South Carolina Chapter of the Women's March and longtime women’s rights advocate.

  • Tootsie Holland – (Unknown – Unknown) women’s rights activist; former Regional Director of NOW (National Organization of Women).

  • Vivian Anderson (Unknown – Present) Founder of Every Black Girl, an organization supporting justice for African American girls; recognized by Essence for being one of the 100 woke women of 2018.

 

Actors

These women were/are actors on either the stage or screen with many of them being recognized for their talent with nominations and awards.

  •  Andie McDowell (April 21, 1958 – present) Golden Globe nominated actor and model; known for roles in Groundhog Day, Green Card, and Sex, Lies, and Videotape.

  • Anna Camp (September 27, 1982 – present) actor, known for her roles in TV Series True Blood, Mad Men, and the Pitch Perfect movies.

  • Danielle Brooks (September 17, 1989 – Present) actor and singer; known for her role as Tasha "Taystee" Jefferson on Orange Is the New Black; received a Tony nomination for her portrayal of Sofia in the 2015 Broadway production of The Color Purple.

  • Lauren Hutton (November 17, 1943 – present) American actress and model who signed, at the time, the biggest contract in the history of the modeling industry with makeup brand Revlon (1973).

  • Mabel King (December 25, 1932 – November 9, 1999) American film, stage and TV actress whose roles include Mabel “Mama” Thomas on the ABC hit show, What’s Happening!! and Evillene the Witch on the stage musical, The Wiz.

  • Mary Louise Parker (August 2, 1964 – present) American actor and writer who has received both a Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy Award for roles that she has played; known for her roles in the TV series Weeds and the movie Fried Green Tomatoes

  • Monique Coleman (November 13, 1980 – present) Actor and producer who is known for her roles in the hit movie franchise, High School Musical.

  • Nina Mae McKinney (June 12, 1912 – May 3, 1967) American actor who got her start on Broadway; one of the first African American film stars in the United States.

  • Viola Davis (August 11, 1965 – Present) American actor and the first African American actor to have won an Academy Award, Emmy Award and Tony Award; known for her role on the show How to Get Away with Murder.

  • Virginia Capers (September 22, 1925 – May 6, 2004) Broadway and stage actor; won the Tony Award for Best Lead Actress in a Musical for her role in Raisin.

 

Artists

These women were/are artists of any medium or contributed greatly to the arts in South Carolina.

 

  • Alice Ravenel Huger Smith (July 14, 1876 – February 3, 1958) watercolorist, painter, and printmaker; one of the leading figures of the Charleston Renaissance

  • Anita Pollitzer (October 31, 1894 – July 3, 1975) photographer, charcoal artist, and suffragette who was a member of the National Woman’s Party and was instrumental in the passage of the 19th amendment.

  • Anna Vaughan Hyatt Huntington (March 10, 1876 – October 4, 1973) American sculptor who both created the first public monument by a woman in New York City and created the city’s first monument dedicated to a historical woman

  • Betsy Teter (unknown – present) co-founded the Hub City Writers Project in 1995, opened Hub City Bookshop; winner of Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts

  • Elaine Nichols (Unknown – Present) Supervisory Curator of Culture at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; curator of the Black Fashion Museum collection.

  • Elizabeth O’Neill Verner (December 21, 1883 – April 17, 1979) Known as the “best-known woman artist of South Carolina of the twentieth century,” Verner was an artist, author lecturer, and preservationist who was one leader of the Charleston Renaissance; helped found the Southern States Art League.

  • Gail M. Morrison – (Unknown - Present) educator and philanthropist; longtime patron of the arts in Columbia; her and her deceased husband were major benefactors of the Philharmonic, City Ballet, CMA and others; former director of the Commission on Higher Education

  • Georgette Seabrooke (August 2, 1916 – December 27, 2011) Best known for her mural, Recreation in Harlem, displayed at Harlem Hospital in New York City; South Carolina native known as a muralist, artist, illustrator, art therapist and non-profit chief executive and educator

  • Georgia Harris (July 29, 1905 - January 30, 1997) One of the Catawba tribe’s former master potters; award-winning nurse who received the National Heritage Fellowship Award.

  • Helen Hill (May 9, 1970 – January 4, 2007) American filmmaker, artist, writer and social activist; known as one of the most well-regarded experimental animators of her generation after the release of her final film, The Florestine Collection.

  • Kitty Black-Perkins (Unknown) Chief Designers of Fashions and Doll Concepts for Mattel’s Barbie, where her “Black Barbie” was the first doll of color to take the name Barbie (1979-1980).

  • Lily Strickland (January 28, 1884 – June 6, 1958) Composer, painter and writer who published 395 works including sacred music and children’s songs.

  • Mary Jackson (February 3, 1945 – Present) African American fiber artist who received the MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 2008 for “pushing the tradition in stunning new directions” with her sweetgrass basket weaving.

  • Suzy McCormick Shealy (Unknown – present) American artist; was awarded the Order of the Palmetto in 2017; served on the Board of Trustees of the Walker Foundation at the School for the Deaf and Blind

 

Athletes

These women were not only athletes but often broke boundaries for women and people of color in their fields.

  •  Alice Coachman (November 9, 1923 – July 14, 2014) track and field athlete, first black woman to win an Olympic gold medal

  • Dawn Staley (May 4, 1970 – present) Hall of Fame basketball player and coach; three-time Olympic gold medalist

  • Jackie Frazier-Lyde (December 2, 1961 – present) American lawyer and former professional boxer; born the daughter of former Heavyweight boxing champion Joe Frazier.

  • Katrina McClain Johnson (September 19, 1965 – present) Retired American basketball player who has played for many USA teams and three Olympic teams; inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame and the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

  • Louise Smith (July 31, 1916 – April 15, 2006) Known as the “first lady of racing,” Smith was a NASCAR racer who became the first woman inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999.

  • Lucille Ellerbe Godbold (May 31, 1900 – April 5, 1981) American athlete who competed in the 1922 Women’s World Games; the 1st woman in South Carolina Sports Hall of Fame.

  • Mamie Peanut Johnson (September 27, 1935 – December 18, 2017) Professional female baseball player who was the first female pitcher and one of only three women to play in the Negro Leagues.

 Businesswomen & Executives

These women spent/have spent their lives either founding their own businesses or working their way to the top of their respective businesses, breaking the glass ceiling both gender and race wise.

  • Darla Moore (August 1, 1954 – present) investor and philanthropist; has been mentioned in Forbes Fortune, Working Woman, Worth, Wall Street Journal, and CNN; school of business at USC is named after her.

  • Debra L. Lee, Esq. (August 8, 1954 – present) businesswoman; currently the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of BET; named one of The Hollywood Reporter’s “100 Most Powerful Women in Entertainment”

  • Kathy Riley (Unknown – present) Executive Director and Founder of the Columbia Women’s Shelter.

  • Kay Thigpen (Unknown – present) Co-founder and Managing Director of Columbia, South Carolina’s Trustus Theatre.

  • Laura Bragg (October 9, 1881 – May 16, 1978) First woman to run a publicly funded art museum, the Charleston Museum, in 1920. 

  • Marva Smalls (Unknown – Present) Entertainment executive; Vice President of Public Affairs and Chief of Staff at Nickelodeon Networks.

  • Sylvia Woods (February 2, 1926 – July 19, 2012) American restaurateur who founded the restaurant Sylvia’s in Harlem, New York City. She is known as the “Queen of Soul Food.”

  

Educators

These women spent/have spent their lives educating/mentoring groups &/or the community to better understand both the history and current societal structures of South Carolina.

  • Augusta Baker (April 1, 1911 – February 23, 1998) African-American librarian and storyteller, renowned for her contributions to children’s literature

  • Barbara Williams Jenkins (August 17, 1934 – present) educator who greatly contributed to the library profession on a local, regional and national level; first African American President of the South Carolina Library Association

  • Brooke Bauer (unknown – present) – first Catawba Indian to receive a PhD; professor of History at USC – Lancaster

  • Charlotta Spears Bass (February 14, 1874 - April 12, 1969) educator, newspaper publisher-editor, and civil rights activist; first African-American woman to own and operate a newspaper in the US; first African-American woman nominated for Vice President.

  • Cynthia Graham Hurd (Mid-1900s – June 17, 2015) librarian who fought for literacy for all; housing rights activist; victim of Charleston AME church shooting

  • Dr. Wil Lou Gray (August 29, 1883 – March 10, 1984) Influential educator focusing on adult literacy who was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame; only female of 34 nominations for the South Carolina Man of the Hall Century Award.

  • Lucy Hampton Bostick (November 6, 1898 – July 8, 1968) Devoted librarian and citizen who contributed to the development of the library system in Richland County & South Carolina; served as Secretary of the SC State Library Board for almost 40 years.

  • Martha Schofield (1839 – 1916) Abolitionist and Educator who opened Scofield’s School in 1870 in an effort to teach her students to become “themselves” while still teaching them basic skills such as reading, writing and math. 

  • Millicent Brown (Unknown – present) Claflin professor; one of the first African American children to integrate South Carolina schools with the case Millicent Brown vs. SC School District 20 (1963).

  • Rev. Sharonda Coleman- Singleton (Unknown – June 17, 2015) Speech-language pathologist for Goose Creek High; track and field coach who brought many athletes to the state tournament; victim of the Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston who is honored by many.

  • Victoria Eslinger (Unknown – Present) litigator; mentor at the USC School of Law; winner of the 2012 Bissell Award, 2009 Advocate of the Year, and a Compleat Lawyer Platinum Award.

 

Scientists & Medical Professionals

These women were/are scientists, astronauts, nurses, and doctors, who spent/have spent their lives saving the lives of others and making scientific breakthroughs.

 

  • Catherine Coleman (December 14, 1960 – present) –American chemist, former United States Air Force officer, and retired NASA astronaut

  • Hilla Sheriff (1903 – September 10, 1988) South Carolina physician who became one of the most respected medical officials during the twentieth century; held positions such as Health Officer in Spartanburg County and the Director of the Board of Health’s Division of Maternal and Child Health in Columbia.

  • Juanita Redmond Hipps (July 1, 1912 – February 25, 1979) Known as one of the Angels of Bataan during the early months of war; a nurse for the United States Army Nurse Corps and the author of bestselling book, I Served on Bataan, which spoke on her experiences in the Philippines.

  • Maj. Gen. Irene Trowell-Harris (Unknown – present) Commissioned in the New York Air National Guard in April 1963; held the positions of chief nurse, nurse administrator, flight nurse instructor and flight nurse examiner; first female in history to have a Tuskegee Airmen Inc. Chapter named in her honor

  • Maude Callen (November 8, 1898 – January 23, 1990) Nurse and midwife whose work was brought to national attention through the photo, “Nurse Midwife,” by W. Eugene Smith when it was published in Life in 1951.

 

Singers & Performers

These women were/are singers, dancers, models, or other performers who either helped the state in some way or represented SC as they performed around the world.

 

  • Ann Brodie (December 13, 1929 – March 9, 1999) internationally acclaimed dancer and choreographer; founding director of Columbia City Ballet.

  • Bertha “Chippie” Hill (March 15, 1905 – May 7, 1950) blues and vaudeville performer who recorded with Louis Armstrong

  • Dorae Saunders (unknown – present) transgender woman of color from Columbia who was a finalist on season 3 of America’s Got Talent

  • Etta Jones (November 25, 1928 – October 16, 2001) American Jazz singer who received three Grammy nominations for her albums Don’t Go to Strangers, Save Your Love for Me, and My Buddy. Her album, Don’t Go to Strangers, was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

  • Gwendolyn Bradley (Unknown – Present) American soprano born in Bishopville, South Carolina, who has performed on both opera and concert stages around the world.

  • Linda Martell (June 4, 1941 – present) Country and blues singer who was the first African American Woman to sing at the Grand Ole Opry.

  • Mariclare Miranda (Unknown – present) Prima ballerina for Columbia City Ballet since 1997; founder and principal instructor of the Columbia Conservatory of Dance.

  • Marlena Smalls (Unknown) Gospel Singer known for forming the Hallelujah Singers in 1990 in hopes to promote the Gullah heritage.

  • Maxine Brown (August 18, 1939 – present) American soul singer whose track “We’ll Cry Together” reached #10 in the Billboard R&B chart.

  • Melanie Thornton (May 13, 1967 – November 24, 2001) American pop singer who was the lead singer of the band La Bouche from 1994-2001.

  • Ophelia Devore-Mitchell (August 12, 1921 – February 28, 2014) First African American model in the United States; helped establish the Grace Del Marco Agency, one of the first modeling agencies in America.

  • Sarah Reese – (Unknown - Present) instructor and opera singer who has traveled and performed throughout the world; praised by a plethora of sources such as The New York Times; won on the “Ted Mack” show.

 

Writers

These women are poets, novelists, essayists, journalists, playwrights, and more who were often inspired by their own lives in the works they wrote and frequently used their written works as a form of activism.

 

  • Annie Greene Nelson (December 5, 1902 – December 23, 1993) novelist and playwright; first African American woman from South Carolina to publish a novel

  • Betsy Cromer Byars (August 7, 1928 – present) author of children's books; won a Newbery Medal, a National Book Award for Young People's Literature, and an Edgar Award 

  • Beryl Dakers (Mid-1900s – present) Emmy nominated broadcast journalist; first black person on air reporting news for WIS radio; worked for ETV.

  • Blanche McCrary Boyd (1945 – present) novelist, essayist, and screenwriter; feminist & LGBTQ+ advocate  

  • Carrie Allen McCray (October 4, 1913 – July 25, 2008) novelist and poet;
    one of the founders and first board members of the South Carolina Writers Workshop

  • Charlayne Hunter-Gault (February 27, 1942 – present) journalist; former foreign correspondent for National Public Radio; Civil Rights Activist

  • Dori Sanders (June 8, 1934 – present) African-American novelist, food writer and farmer; winner of the Lillian Smith Book Award

  • Dorothy Allison (April 11, 1949 – present) best-selling author; nominated for the 1992 National Book Award for her novel Bastard Out of Carolina

  • Dot Jackson (August 10, 1932 – December 11, 2016) Novelist and longtime journalist for the Charlotte Observer.

  • Elizabeth Allston Pringle (May 29, 1845 – December 5, 1921) Female rice-plantation owner; author of the best-selling novel A Woman Rice Planter; wrote about her childhood and women during the Civil War.

  • Elizabeth Boatwright Coker (April 21, 1909 – September 1, 1993) Author of nine novels with plots revolving around the legends and family histories of South Carolina; inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame in 1992 for her impact on South Carolina and American culture and history.

  • Essie Mae Washington-Williams (October 12, 1925 - February 4, 2013) Daughter of former Governor of South Carolina, Strom Thurmond; a teacher, author and writer known for her pro-racial segregation policies.

  • Grace Lumpkin (March 3, 1891 – March 23, 1980) American writer of proletarian literature with much of her work focusing on the Depression Era. Her first book, To Make My Bread, won the Gorky Prize in 1933.

  • Gwen Bristow (September 16, 1903 – August 17, 1980) American Author and Journalist known for her best-selling western romance, Jubilee Trail; inducted into the Alabama Women’s Hall of Fame in 1989.

  • Helen von Kolnitz Hyer (December 30, 1896 – November 14, 1983) American Poet named the second South Carolina Poet Laureate from 1974-1983 by Governor John C. West.

  • Josephine Humphries (February 2, 1945 – present) Author who wrote many novels inspired by the landscape of Charleston, SC, and her own life in the South; recipient of the 1984 Hemingway Foundation/PEN award.

  • Mary Boykin Chestnut (March 31, 1823 – November 22, 1886) American author; known for her book published as her Civil War diary, which outlines the society and its struggles throughout this time.

  • Mary C. Simms Oliphant (January 6, 1891 – July 27, 1988) South Carolina historian; updated the 1860 history of South Carolina textbook, which was adopted by the State Board of Education.

  • Nikky Finney (August 26, 1957 – present) American poet who advocates for social justice and cultural preservation; inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors in 2013.

  • Peggy Parish (July 14, 1927 – November 19, 1988) American author known for her children’s book series; published over 30 books in her lifetime.

  • Sheila R. Morris (Unknown - Present) author and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights; wrote Southern Perspective of the Queer Movement, a collection of the true stories of LGBTQ+ individuals in South Carolina. 

  • Sue Monk Kidd (August 12, 1948 – Present) American author whose work has debuted at number 1 on The New York Times Best Seller List; best known for her novel, The Secret Life of Bees, which was turned into a fairly well-critiqued movie.

  • Vera Gomez (Unknown – present) Greenville based poet; founding member of the first Greenville Poetry Slam team that won the 1998 Southeast Regionals, bringing the first, all-women team to Nationals.

  • Vertamae Smart-Grosvenor (April 4, 1937 – September 3, 2016) Culinary anthropologist, food writer, and broadcaster on public media; produced two award-winning documentaries.

  • Virginia Mixson Geraty (1915 - 2004) American Author who published books in the Gullah Language; Gullah Scholar and defender of the language.

 

The Jasper Project presents

An Array of Remarkable South Carolina Women – an ancillary project of The Supper Table

When Judy Chicago created her monumental 1979 art installation, The Dinner Party, the artist knew she wanted to highlight the accomplishments of more than just the 39 women who have place-settings at the table. So Chicago created the Heritage Floor upon which the names of 999 women were written on more than 2000 tiles.

The Jasper Project’s Supper Table* takes further inspiration from Chicago’s installation with an ancillary project called an Array of Remarkable South Carolina Women, consisting of 120 ceramic tiles, each embossed with the name of an exceptional SC woman, embellished and signed by a woman from the Midlands community, and set into wall-like panels for display.

You are invited to embellish one of these tiles, each of which honors a SC woman, living or deceased, whose life’s work has improved or continues to improve humankind. There is no cost to participate and all ages are welcome. All you need to do is sign up for one of the designated time slots, go to the Columbia Arts Center at 1227 Taylor Street, choose your subject and then paint and sign your tile. Your name will be recorded in our commemorative book, alongside the bio of the woman whose tile you paint, and you will be invited to an opening reception for the tiles later this summer.

Times to paint:

·        Wednesday, April 17, 6 – 8 pm

·        Wednesday, April 24, 3 – 5 pm

·        Tuesday, April 30, 6 – 8 pm

·        Wednesday, May 1, 3 – 5 pm

·        Wednesday, May 8, 3 – 5 pm

·        Saturday, May 11, 1 – 3 pm

*The Supper Table is the Jasper Project’s most ambitious project to date! A SC-centric homage to the 40th anniversary of Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party, the Supper Table honors 12 women from SC history who devoted their lives to breaking barriers and improving humankind including Mary McLeod Bethune, Alice Childress, Septima Clark, Mathilda Evans, Althea Gibson, Angelina and Sarah Grimke, Eartha Kitt, Julia Peterkin, Eliza Pinckney, Modjeska Monteith Simkins, Elizabeth Evelyn Wright, and Sarah Leverette.

Participating Artists include:

Bohumila Augustinova – Columbia Art Center, Anastasia and Friends

Eileen Blyth – www.eileenblyth.com

Tonya Gregg – www.tonyagregg.com

Mana Hewitt – www.manahewitt.com

B. A. Hohman – www.facebook.com/bahohman

Heidi Darr-Hope www.darr-hope.com

Lori Isom

Flavia Lovatelli – www.flavia-lovatelli.com

Laurie Brownell McIntosh – www.lauriemcintoshart.com

Michaela Pilar Brown – www.michaelapilarbrown.com 

Renee Roullier –www.reneerouillier.com

Olga Yukhno 310art.com/olga-yukhno

 

Literary Artists

Jennifer Bartell – poet and educator - https://jenniferbartellpoet.com/

Carla Damron – social worker and author of The Stone Necklace - http://carladamron.com/

Joyce Rose Harris – poet, The Watering Hole

Kristine Hartvigsen – editor, author of To the Wren Nesting

Meeghan Kane – founder, editor UnSweetened

Monifa Lemons – poet, founder The Watering Hole

Eva Moore – editor, Free Times

Marjory Wentworth – SC poet laureate

Qiana Whitted – USC professor of English and African Studies, author of Comics and the US South

Candace Wiley – poet, founder The Watering Hole

Christina Xan – poet, adjunct English professor, USC 

Claudia Smith Brinson – The State, Columbia College

 

Additional Artists

Kirkland Smith – portraitist

Jordan Morris – table artist

Betsy Newman –filmmaker advisor

Mahkia Greene – filmmaker coordinator

Vicky Saye Henderson – theatre artist coordinator

Lee Ann Kornegay – long-form and short-form filmmaker

Brenda Oliver – ceramicist

Diane Hare  - ceramics assistant

Kathryn Van Aernum – photographer/graphic artist

Cindi Boiter – project director/editor

Christina Xan- assistant project director

Filmmakers (4/15/19)

Betsy Newman, Lee Ann Kornegay, Laura Kissel, Roni Nicole, Ebony Wilson, Tamara Finkbeiner, Josetra Robinson, Katly Hong