The Harvey Gantt Cultural Center
The Gant Cultural Center, America I Am exhibit was one of the best exhibitions I have seen in a while. The way the exhibit was set up, like a timeline that meanders through the different periods and even areas of the world, made it a very intriguing and interesting experience. I enjoyed how at the beginning of the exhibit, it started with the cultural roots in Africa and follows the journey of African culture to America, and then as it becomes its own culture in the New World. I think that the exhibit offered a very objective approach to the story of African Americans’ life in America. It uses the objects and artifacts to tell the story. Not every aspect of the exhibit was meant to be pretty; not all of our history is either. The period of slavery on the United States has obviously affected African America culture. There are some instances where African Americans of the time period developed great skill in crafts of their own. Although the exhibition itself isn’t displaying art like in a museum, the work of these people can be viewed as art. Dave the Potter, owned by the Drake family of Edgefield, SC produces some of the best examples of ceramics in the South during this period. His work was larger than scale, probably storage vessels, but the simplicity and graceful form, lend to the aesthetic of his works. Although in slavery, Dave created art and perfected his technique and craft. On the other side of the spectrum, in the 1820’s was Thomas Day, a furniture maker and businessman from Milton, NC who was very successful and created many fine pieces. Both of these people, having different lives, one in slavery one in freedom, are artists. I enjoyed looking at some of the older artifacts, because the stories behind them are not well known and they usually offer a bit of forgotten history with them. The exhibit itself can be considered a work of art, in the presentation of the artifacts to layout, even the graphics that were part of the exhibit. It was a story well told, about a long and hard journey, one still not over and explores the successes, tragedies and everything in between of African Americans.
The Harvey Gantt Center presented a series of artifacts that told a story about African Americans culture and history in the United States. For my visual response, I chose to create a photo collage, similar to an "I Spy" book. The objects in it are my own and represent who I am.