University of South Carolina

This straw hat is one of the items on display in
This straw hat is one of the items on display in "African Origins."

McKissick exhibit to highlight African origins of American art

“Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art” will be on display at the University of South Carolina’s McKissick Museum Feb. 13 until May 8, 2010.

Opening day will feature numerous events and activities including a talk on the African American presence in South Carolina by Peter Wood from Duke University, gallery tours by the curators and activities for children, and a viewing of the acclaimed new film, “Grass Roots: The Enduring Art of the Lowcountry Basket.”

Through the story of the beautiful coiled basket, “Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art” revisits the history of the southeastern U.S. and demonstrates the enduring contribution of African people and culture to American life. The exhibition features more than 200 objects, including baskets made in Africa and the American South, African sculptures and paintings from the Charleston Renaissance period. “Grass Roots” traces the history of the coiled basket on two continents and shows how a simple farm tool once used for processing rice has become a work of art and an important symbol of African-American identity.

“This is a major project for McKissick Museum,” said Lynn Robertson, executive director of the museum. “We first started documenting and collecting baskets 30 years ago. The research and field work we have supported enable us now to see them in a global context. I think if you asked most South Carolinians to name the symbols of our state, the things that best represent our geography and our culture, the sweetgrass basket would be near the top of that list.”

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"Grass Roots: African Origins of an American Art"

  • What: Exhibit of more than 200 items made in Africa and the U.S., with emphasis on the iconic coiled basket
  • When: Feb. 13 - May 8, 2010
  • Where: McKissick Museum

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