NCHS Arts Fest highlights phenomenal African-American women with fiber art exhibition


"I'm a woman phenomenally"

Twelve years running, the African American Fiber Art Exhibition is a key component of the North Charleston Arts Fest, held this May. Curated by local fiber artist Torreah “Cookie” Washington, this year’s show is dedicated to Dr. Marlene O’Bryant-Seabrook, who passed away last December. Washington remembers O’Bryant-Seabrook as a “quilting goddess.”

Yesterday, March 8, was International Women’s Day — a day filled with meaning, but also, inevitably, with a lot of inspirational quotes. One quote, though, never disappoints. Snagged from Maya Angelou’s poem, “Phenomenal Woman,” are a number of pithy phrases, but the titular words seem to be the ones that make their way onto T-shirts and yoga/sunrise pictures.

In case you’ve never seen the full poem — read it. Here’s my favorite stanza:

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
And to a man,
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees.
Then they swarm around me,
A hive of honey bees.
I say,
It’s the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.

Washington is embracing Angelou’s poem — and what it means to be not just a woman, but a phenomenal black woman, with the theme of this year’s show, Phenomenal Women. Washington asked artists to create fiber art, be it dolls or quilts, that pay homage to an African-American woman who many people may not know about.

For example, Washington’s work features Califa, who she describes as “a black Amazon queen who ruled over all colors of women, and the state of California is named for her. Cortez, the Spanish explorer came looking for her because he and many others believe that she ruled over the lost City of Gold. Many scholars are now saying that Califa is where the Wonder Woman story came from.”

Stay tuned for more details on when and where to check out the exhibit at this year’s North Charleston Arts Fest.

Support the Charleston City Paper

We’ve been covering Charleston since 1997 and plan to be here with the latest and Best of Charleston for many years to come. In a time where local journalism is struggling, the City Paper is investing in the future of Charleston as a place where diverse, engaging views can flourish. We can't do it without our readers. If you'd like to support local, independent journalism:

UP NEXT FROM

FEATURE

Gaillard Center’s 2020-2021 season features Broadway musicals, chamber orchestras, and an iconic dance company

Connelly Hardaway

While so much of the world has seemed to come to a standstill, area arts organizations and venues continue to plan for their upcoming seasons — offering a shimmer of hope at the end of this coronavirus tunnel. The Gaillard Center promises “10 sensational performances” during this upcoming season, including two Lowcountry Broadway premieres.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Gaillard Center’s 2020-2021 season features Broadway musicals, chamber orchestras, and an iconic dance company

While so much of the world has seemed to come to a standstill, area arts organizations and venues continue to plan for their upcoming seasons — offering a shimmer of hope at the end of this coronavirus tunnel. The Gaillard Center promises “10 sensational performances” during this upcoming season, including two Lowcountry Broadway premieres.

Brookgreen Gardens opens new outdoor exhibit, “Southern Light,” on May 15

Murrell’s Inlet’s Brookgreen Gardens is currently open, 9:30 a.m.-7 p.m. daily. And, after its original opening date was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bruce Munro’s massive outdoor light installation, Southern Light, will open to the public on Fri. May 15.

Sam Reynolds

Sam Reynolds, a Lowcountry folk songwriter who now resides in Vermont, released a collection of soft, subtle, and stirring piano instrumentals on May 1 titled Broken Tulips.

Charleston Wine + Food Festival says 2020 event had $19.9 million local economic impact

A survey by the College of Charleston reports that 54% of the 28,000 Charleston Wine + Food attendees were local.