Body and Soul will be the title of a exhibition to be featured in Mars Hill University’s Weizenblatt Gallery through February 28.
The exhibition will be curated by Wim Roefs of the if Art Gallery in Columbia SC, and will begin with an opening on February 5 from 6 - 8 p.m. The exhibit is part of Mars Hill’s celebration of Black History Month, and will feature work by African-American artists Leo Twiggs, Michaela Pilar Brown, and Tonya Gregg.
Orangeburg, S.C., batik artist Leo Twiggs is considered by many the dean of South Carolina arts. Twiggs has been for some four decades among his home state’s most prominent figures in the arts, foremost as an artist but also as an arts educator and administrator and a member of many arts- and culture-related boards, committees and commissions.
Twiggs is also considered nationally as the pioneer in using batik as a modern art medium. He has had more than 70 one-man shows, and his works are represented in numerous public and private collections. He is a member of the National Black College Alumni Hall of Fame and the S.C. Black Hall of Fame, and he is a recipient of the Scottie Award from the S.C. Arts Alliance and the National Art Education Association Southeastern Regional Award. In 1980, he became the first visual artist to receive South Carolina’s Governor’s Award for the Arts, the Verner Award, for outstanding contributions to the arts. He received the 2004 Medal of Honor in the Arts from Winthrop University and in 2003 he received the Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities Leadership Award.
Twiggs said: Every artist must create out of his own being, out of the result of his own encounter with the world. I was born in the South and, needless to say, the things I remember, the scents, the atmosphere, all acted to shape the imagery I use in my paintings. …. We were poor folks, and I remember a pervasive kind of dinginess, a kind of “oldness,” of not having the new, but there was always a dignity in it all. Somewhere along the way I saw the spidery web-like linear patterns and mottled surface inherent to batik as expressive of an aging process, the struggle to survive, not just the world, but time itself. I came to realize that the struggle we had was the basic struggle of mankind—we were not alone.”
Born in Maine in 1970, Michaela Pilar Brown spent much of her childhood in Denver, but also spent time in Winnsboro, SC, where her family has roots that date back to the early 1800s. She studied sculpture and art history at Howard University, eventually settling in Washington, DC where she has showed in group exhibitions, and has worked at a number of non-profits engaged in education and arts related programming.
She is a three-dimensional artist whose work uses common objects and architectural spaces to explore the line between memory, dream and experience.
She said: “Recent work explores home as a physical structure and repository for memories. I chronicle beginnings, departures and returns to this symbolic yet physical place, believing it to be the genesis where history, memory and myth are joined. The characters and the spaces I build for them to inhabit demonstrate the capacity in our lives for monsters, angels, heroes and giants, illustrating our reactions to occupation and absence, desire, responsibility, and obligation.”
Tonya Gregg was born in 1975 in Darlington, South Carolina. She received a Master of Fine Arts in Painting from the University of Chicago in 2000 and Master of Community Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2007. Her work has been exhibited widely throughout the Southeast and beyond, including New York City, Washington, DC, Chicago, and Germany. She completed a residency at the prestigious Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada, the Wollmagazin studio complex in Kaiserslautern, Germany and several other places.
“My canvases feature women dressed in carefully coordinated fashions lounging in alluring and iconic poses while presenting themselves in a manner that is hyper aware of the gaze of the world that is focused upon them,” she said. “My episodic paintings comment on race, class, sexuality, and consumption among women of color. The personal and social narratives depict women navigating the shifting cultural influences and paradoxical worlds of contemporary womanhood in their endeavor to embrace their own personhood. These women are on a personal quest to find a balance in life between sensual pleasures and intellectual and spiritual pursuits. … Ultimately, the elements are integrated with one another to allow oppositional ideas about the characters and the environments they inhabit.”
Wim Roefs is the owner of if ART Gallery in Columbia, S.C., an independent curator, art consultant and exhibition designer. He is the chairman of the board of Columbia’s 701 Center for Contemporary Art (701 CCA) and was the organization’s volunteer executive director until from 2008 until February 2013. Roefs is a member of the Art in Transit Advisory Committee (ATAC) of the Charlotte (N.C.) Area Transit System (CATS), supervising the implementation of the light rail system’s public art component. He has taught courses in contemporary art and African-American art at the University of South Carolina Art Department and Honors College. Roefs was the organizer of Columbia Open Studios 2007 & 2008, which now is a project of 701 CCA.
Body and Soul is sponsored by the Mars Hill University Office of Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, the MHU Art Department, and the University Intercultural Council.