Yesterday, the Gibbes Museum of Art announced that it’s expanding its permanent collection with four new works from artists Leo Twiggs, Mary Jackson, Charles Williams, and Andrée Ruellan.
Twiggs’ batik piece, “Requiem for Mother Emanuel #3,” was created by Twiggs as a response to the Emanuel AME Church tragedy; Twiggs’ work often deals with the South’s racial history and he is known for using batik, an ancient wax-resistant method of dyeing textiles.
In 2016 City Paper interviewed Twiggs about “Requiem for Mother Emanuel #3,” who described his inspiration for the piece, which prominently features a Confederate flag: “What I wanted to do early on was to create a flag that looked like it had been left in a trunk for 150 years, and all of a sudden you pull it out of a trunk and you see the stain and the mildew.” He continued, “What I tried to do is show it as a ragged instrument that now has bloody connotations because you see there is blood sprayed all over it.”
The second acquisition is “NeverAgain” (ca. 2007), a major piece by local artist Mary Jackson, considered to be a masterpiece of traditional Gullah basketry. Jackson has been making baskets since the age of four and is a founding member of the Mt. Pleasant Basket Makers’ Association.
In 1984, the Gibbes opened the first museum exhibition of Jackson’s work and purchased its first basket by the artist, “Cobra with Handle.” A 2008 MacArthur Fellow, Jackson continues to receive widespread recognition for her art. “NeverAgain” was donated to the Museum by the Braithwaite family of Atlanta. The basket is the largest of its kind, measuring 42-inches in diameter.
The Gibbes has also acquired “And Still I Love” (2017) by Charles Williams. This piece — crayon, acrylic, and oil on watercolor paper — was conceived last year during Williams’ two week residency at the Gibbes. “And Still I Love,” a part of Williams’ Child’s Play series, conveys a contemporary response to sociopolitical issues of the past and present.
Williams’ work invites community cooperation; during his residency at the Gibbes, he encouraged viewers to come in and add color to his paintings. He sought to foster a sense of community, of trust, that unites people of all backgrounds. That is the theme of his Child’s Play series, which draws inspiration from historical photographs from the Civil Rights movement.
“Study for the Wind-Up” (ca. 1935-38) is an oil on canvas by American Scene painter Andrée Ruellan (1905-2006). This piece depicts a house by the train tracks, with industrial smokestacks in the background. “The Wind-Up” would eventually add an impromptu baseball game to the foreground of this scene. Only recently was the piece identified as a Charleston scene, often mistaken for Savannah, Ga.
Some detective work from the Gibbes uncovered the truth. “We were able, with the help of historians and archivists to identify the structures in Hopper’s painting of being 54 and 56 Washington St., and we were able to isolate the block where he was working. And then we discovered that two paintings by Ruellan were of the same block,” Gibbes Museum’s Curator of Collections Sara Arnold revealed to City Paper last May. “Study for the Wind-Up” likely draws inspiration from Ruellan’s 1936 trip to Charleston.