Gullah art tour of the Lowcountry: Preserving heritage through art

Seven must-see spots

The Lowcountry is the inspiration for many artists and also the land of the Gullah people. Rich with history, culture, and the beauty of nature, the Gullah community uses art to preserve history and heritage.

If you want to explore the artisans of the Gullah community, you should check out the following galleries, studios, and exhibits highlighting the treasure that is Gullah Art.

Gallery Chuma

Based in the Charleston Market, Gallery Chuma is one of the most popular Gullah Art galleries in the Lowcountry. Featuring artists such as Jonathan Green, John Jones, Carol A. Simmons, and more, this gallery has original art and prints and a price for any art lover. Definitely a must-see for anyone looking to start their Gullah art collection.

188 Meeting St. Downtown.

Penn Center

As the first school for freed slaves, Penn Center is one of the most important buildings that is part of Gullah and American Culture. Founded in 1862, Penn School was one of the first academic schools in the South established by Northern missionaries, to provide a formal education for formerly enslaved West Africans. The Penn Center features Gullah Art in its museum exhibits and also displays Gullah art in its gift shop. This November head to the Penn Center for Heritage Days celebration, Nov. 7-9, which showcases the history, art, and culture of the Gullah Geechee people, featuring musical entertainers, cultural performers, and educators.

16 Penn Center Cir. E, St. Helena Island.

Beaufort County Black Chamber of Commerce Gullah Heritage Gallery

As an economic hub for the Gullah Community of Beaufort County, this recently opened gallery is supporting artists both up-and-coming and established. Some of the Gullah artists featured in this gallery include Cassandra Gillens, Diane Britton Dunham, and Lisa Gilyard-Rivers.

711 Bladen S., Beaufort.

Sonja Griffin Evans Studio

A Beaufort native who has traveled the world, Sonja Griffin Evans has a gallery in Bluffton and Hilton Head. This Lowcountry native creates art that reflects nature, family, and history. Evans’ art collections have been featured nationally and internationally, and her latest collection, American Gullah, was most recently dedicated to the historical Reconstruction Era National Historic Park landmark in Beaufort, S.C., where the artist was born and raised.

32 Palmetto Bay Road, Suite 10A. Hilton Head Island.

LyBensons Art Gallery

LyBensons is one of the original Gullah art galleries in downtown Beaufort. Established in 1977, they specialize in original artwork, rare collectibles, and antiques that depict the African, Gullah, and African-American heritage. This downtown Beaufort landmark is a must-see when visiting the area and of the original Gullah owned businesses in the Beaufort city limits.

211 Charles St. Beaufort.

Red Piano Too Art Gallery

In the heart of Saint Helena Island is Red Piano Gallery, owned by community and arts legend, Mary Mack. Red Piano Gallery was founded in 1989 and is one of the premier African-American art galleries in the South. The 1940s building it occupies was once an African-American farming cooperative, the first of its kind in South Carolina. Artists featured at the Gallery include Sonja Griffin Evans, Saundra Renee Smith, Helen Stewart, and many more. This unique gallery is definitely worth the drive to St. Helena Island.

870 Sea Island Pkwy. St. Helena Island.

Colleton Museum & Farmers Market

The Colleton Museum & Farmers Market has rotating art and history exhibitions, with Gullah culture always a huge part of the space. The museum features art from Patricia Elaine Sabree, Jerry Taylor, and unique exhibits showcasing rich Gullah heritage of Colleton County and the Ace Basin with a focus on the rice culture of the county which is known for the annual Rice Festival.

506 E Washington St., Walterboro.

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