We’re featuring the artists from the Supper Table project throughout the summer. This is the 15th in our series on Supper Table Artists
Septima Clark. A name that should not only be known but revered in the minds of all those living in our country, especially in South Carolina. However, not nearly enough know her name. A 20th century educator and civil rights activist, Clark spent her near 90 years fighting for literacy and equality for black Americans. She developed literacy and citizenship workshops, which she called “Citizenship Schools” in order to educate black individuals on how to not just vote but to fight for their right to vote, to fight for their voice. Her relentless and passionate activism during the height of the Civil Rights Movement led her to be known by Martin Luther King, Jr. as "The Mother of the Movement".
Fortunately, two of our artists have dedicated and are dedicating their visual arts to ensure the name of Septima Clark is quick to all our tongues. Our place-setting artist for this task is Lori Isom. Isom has experienced a varied career as an artist, dedicating years to professional dancing, singing and acting. A figurative and portrait artist for over 20 years, she has been commissioned to do hundreds of individual & family portraits. Her work has been featured in a plethora of places including American Art Collector. She recently completed a one-year artist residency for the City of North Charleston, during which she had the privilege to work on several community-focused projects.
For her place-setting, Isom used a round baking sheet that she discovered at a local thrift store to represent her own love of baking in the project. Isom recalls that, in creating the piece, she “felt that although [Clark] was certainly a brave, dynamic trailblazer with incredible fortitude, she also seemed to be simple and understated.” Therefore, the artist chose a style for her plate that represented this simplicity. The plate features a portrait of Clark against a red, white, and blue background to represent her fight for voting rights. Colors of red, black, and green are also present to pay homage to her African roots. Quotes from Clark decorate the border of the plate.
Complementing the style of this place-setting, is a film by artist Faye Riley. Riley has a PhD in Theatre and Film from the University of Kansas and is a teacher, writer, and filmmaker based in Columbia. She has created ten short films and has taught scriptwriting for ten years. Her influences include Agnes Varda, Georgia O’Keefe, Ed Small, and her parents. She is consistently creating and working on new projects and has a feature film in New York in addition to this project.
For her film, Riley has selected a handful of archival materials on Clark. She has combined footage, photographs, and quotes masterfully with different soundscapes to represent, in 90 seconds or less, 90 years of passion and love. The aesthetic simplicity of utilizing these found images and recordings of Clark is able to do exactly what needs to be done – tell us who Clark is while proving she was, and still is in spirit, a force to be reckoned with.
Isom’s place-setting and Riley’s film will be on view at both opening events for the Supper Table. Our opening night event is Friday, September 6th, at Trustus Theatre, and tickets start at $50. Our second opening event is Sunday, September 8th, at Harbison Theatre, and tickets start at $15.
- Christina Xan