There’s something magical about exploring another culture.
Whether it’s in the halls of a museum or the pages of a book, immersing yourself completely in a different place and time is an honest way to better understand the world around you — and maybe even yourself.
At least, that’s what the team at Thomasville Center for the Arts was hoping for when they teamed up with the Jack Hadley Black History Museum to bring the upcoming Gullah Geechee exhibit at Studio 209 to life.
“When our friends at the Jack Hadley museum approached us about being involved with this multifaceted, cultural and creative experience — it was an easy ‘yes,’” said Darlene Crosby Taylor, exhibition and public art director at the Center. “At Thomasville Center for the Arts, we celebrate not only artists, but when people live artfully. The Gullah Geechee culture manages to check both of those boxes beautifully. Everyone has something to learn from them.”
If you aren’t familiar with this vibrant culture’s story, you’re about to be.
From January 10th to February 22nd the Gullah Geechee: Making Do exhibition will be a fixture at 209 W. Remington Avenue. The exhibition — which will include lectures, relevant classes and a gallery brimming with both art and artifacts — will highlight a people who can trace their ancestry back through times of enslavement, all the way to West and Central Africa.
While Studio 209’s walls will highlight the art and artifacts of the Gullah Geechee, the Jack Hadley Black History Museum, located at 214 Alexander Street in Thomasville, will house all photographic and archival history components related to the exhibition.
According to Jamarcus Underwood, museum educator at Jack Hadley, though the Gullah’s road was often paved with hardship and sadness — their destination is truly something worth celebrating.
“It can be difficult for people to understand the era of slavery that many of our ancestors lived through,” said Underwood. “But these people managed to hold on to their culture and traditions, as well as their language. The Gullah Geechee used art to pass down their stories and values over the years — to preserve their past.”
After the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, the freed men and women who settled along the lowcountry of Georgia and South Carolina’s eastern boarders slowly became known as the Gullah Geechee.
Their art (quilts, pottery, walking sticks and baskets) sprang from necessity, but soon were coveted items by travelers to the region. The port cities of Savannah and Charleston are still characterized by their craftsmanship.
To help breath new life into the Gullah’s story, the art educators at Studio 209 have woven together a class schedule surrounding the exhibition that puts visitors in the center of this eclectic culture. All ages will have a chance to see, touch and create a part of this shared history.
For more information on Thomasville Center for the Arts Gullah Geechee: Making Do Exhibition, visit us at ThomasvilleArts.org/Exhibitions.