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. gallerychuma.com

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. penncenter.com

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. bcbcc.org

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. sonjagriffinevans.com

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. facebook.com/LyBensons

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. redpianotoo.com

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. colletonmuseum.org/farmers-market

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

Terrace Theater giving away 100 tickets each weekend for ‘The Croods’

Heath Ellison

The Terrace Theater will give away 100 tickets for family film The Croods 2: A New Age each weekend through Dec. 20.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

SC cases over 2,400 Friday, ‘a pivotal point,’ health officials say

As South Carolina notched the all-time high number of positive coronavirus cases on Friday, state health officials are calling this “a pivotal point in this pandemic” in the state and nationally. On Friday, 2,470 confirmed cases of COVID-19 were reported, with another 90 suspected cases and 29 deaths, according to the state Department of Health […]

Glizzy tells the truth on ‘Revelations’

Rapper Glizzy released the music video for her latest single, “Revelations” on Dec. 2.

12/4 COVID-19 update: 2,470 cases; 23.8% positive; 29 deaths

COVID-19 updates: South Carolina health officials reported 1,754 new cases of the coronavirus on Friday, with 29 additional confirmed deaths. With 11,569 tests reported Friday, 21.4% were positive. As of 4:11 p.m. Dec. 4, via S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control: Confirmed cases in S.C.: 210,995 (+1,754)Positive tests in Charleston County (total): 20,459 (+99)Negative tests in S.C.: 2,439,341Deaths in S.C. from COVID-19: 4,175 […]

‘Let’s figure this out’: Charleston businesswomen leverage social media during the pandemic

One group of Charleston entrepreneurs has been leveraging their connections through women’s s business groups on Instagram and Facebook to find the best ways to stay afloat amid the pandemic. “I just think, as a business owner, it’s nice to get an idea out there,” said Becki Bowman, the local business owner who has headed […]