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Black Art continues to inspire

By Deanna Ryan

The brick walls of the Emanuel Arts Council’s (EAC) Kalmanson Gallery are popping with patterns of red, blue, and earth-toned quilts, a variegated afghan, jewelry, dolls, primitive country scenes etched on wooden slats, and boldly-colored paintings with the flavor of Picasso and purpose emerging. The running theme between each of the pieces is life captured between working, raising children, and finding a new voice while holding onto the vestiges of a grandmother’s hand-sewn quilt in constant need of repair that would ruin if cleaned by a machine.

Corine Warner Hampton is responsible for two of the large quilts. She has been quilting for over 30 years, a skill that requires not only talent, but persistence, both of which run in her family. “My mother always quilted when I was growing up and she would hang hers on a frame.” The shortest amount of time it has taken Hampton to make a quilt is an entire year, working on it every day. Instead of keeping her quilt on a frame like her mother, she kept hers in a big basket and would take it to the park to put it together while the children played.

Everywhere around the room the works of art represent time, love and culture from the African American community of Emanuel County and beyond and will fill the walls of the gallery until April 21st.

The “Black Art Inspires: Honor, History, Culture,” exhibit opened March 16th and drew one of the largest crowds EAC executive director Jacquie Brasher has seen since it opened, with over 90 community members attending opening night.

On opening night, the exhibit’s organizer, Syvetta Young, spoke to the large gathering with what she stated was a full heart. What started as the seed of an idea had grown to include local black artisans who created all the artifacts around the gallery.

The idea for the exhibit began over five years ago when Young was on a trip to New Orleans. She said, “This lady showed me a picture of a small bird. It was beautiful, and I said, ‘You know what? If we ever have an art show, I’m going to make sure you are a part of it.’ She is in her mid 80s and is not able to be here tonight, but these sketches and this board work belong to her. Her daughters are here this evening to represent her."

Another artist mentioned by Young was Mrs. Carswell who created the quilt hanging at the gallery’s entrance. She noted it was “so heavy they had to hang it across the banister. Now I’m just going to tell you, you get up under that, you can barely flip your body. And you don’t ever want to move.”

Finally, Young noted “the EAC is the best secret in Swainsboro. People just don’t know how many good things go on here.” Besides the Black Art Inspires exhibit, there are also on-going drawing classes for artists at all levels. Since the exhibit will be open until April 21st, Young invited everyone to return and bring others out Tuesday through Friday from 11am-2pm to “come back and visit. Visit often.”

The EAC is located at 109 North Green Street, next to Bangles II Salon and Stewart’s Jewelers. For current information on programming at the EAC, like and follow their Facebook and Instagram pages. You can also contact them at 478-237-2592, or email Hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. You can also make an appointment for a private tour of the gallery for parties of two or more.

The Emanuel Arts Council, Inc. (EAC) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose purpose is to empower and grow the community through cultural programs in all areas of the arts. The EAC operates through membership, donations, fundraisers, and grants. The EAC is also supported by the City of Swainsboro, the Downtown Development Authority of Swainsboro, and the Swainsboro-Emanuel County Chamber of Commerce.

Young speaks to gathering on opening night.

Hampton with quilt