The Lowcountry’s ancestors have answered the call and channeled an extraordinary response through the Passages Artists Collective, a group of top-tier, award-winning, and critically acclaimed creatives whose work pays tribute to African-American history’s multimedia family tree. While our first show, “Race Card,” took place in a temporary location at “Mother” Emanuel AME Church on Calhoun Street, work will soon begin on a renovation of an adjacent Charleston single house, which will become the permanent home of Passages.
Presenting an array of visual works that pays homage to the descendants of the African Diaspora by showcasing their artistic contributions to the modern world, the gallery’s focus is on uniquely soulful works that reveal the skill, discipline, patience, and expertise of art quilters, glass blowers, painters, sculptors, and multimedia makers. The Collective’s participation in the Race Card project offered a good preview of the Collective’s intention to use art to engage the local community in a post-black dialogue, as artist Thelma Golden coined it, to change the conversation and labels that segregate black artists and keep our voices marginalized.
Passages Artists Collective wishes to provide a venue for African-American artists to showcase their excellence. We are also excited to fulfill our goals of educating the public on the varied art forms through lectures, workshops, intimate gallery talks, and exhibitions with a featured artist in attendance.
The contributions to the cultural heritage of our nation by African Americans have often been ignored and gone uncelebrated in our country. African artists from this country’s formation have made outstanding contributions to America’s art history. Today the paintings, pottery, sculpture, textile, and decorative art creations should serve to remind us of the diversity and strength of African Americans’ creative efforts.
According to several historians, between 40 to 60 percent of the enslaved Africans brought to the Americas during the slave trade first landed here in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. The ports of Charleston and Sullivan’s Island were at times an end to a slave’s passage in America, sometimes a pause, as our ancestors traveled to their final places of enslavement. Despite deprivation and adversity, African artists and craftspeople handed down the skills and knowledge of their artistic expression to the next generation and beyond.
The outstanding creative contributions of these artisans and the opportunity to introduce a wider variety of visual arts to Charleston should be an inspiration to us all.