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
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.
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.
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.
Thanks for helping us along.