Skip to Content

Arts at OneSC

(l-r) Ken May, Ike Carpenter, Marlena Smalls, Joseph "Cap'n Crip" Legree and his grandson,
Jeannette Gaillard Lee, Secretary Riley, Keith Brown and Don Gordon

Six Award Winning South Carolina Traditional Artists Featured at OneSouthCarolina®

OneSouthCarolina integrated experiences that showcase South Carolina’s unique foodways culture and helped make this an unforgettable weekend. South Carolina Traditions, curated by the South Carolina Arts Commission, featured demonstrations and sales by award-winning traditional artists connected to South Carolina's rich cultural heritage. In addition to the artists spotlighted below, John T. Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance at the University of Mississippi, prolific author, frequent contributor to the New York Times, Garden & Gun, and the former Gourmet and five-time James Beard Foundation award nominee, spoke to alumni about the diverse food cultures of the South. Each of the artists present at OneSouthCarolina has won prestigious awards from the South Carolina Arts Commission, including the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Awards and the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Awards. Traditional arts showcased included sweetgrass basket making, woodcarving, cast net weaving, and Catawba pottery making. Musical performances showcase the Piedmont blues tradition and the broad influences incorporated by the internationally acclaimed Marlena Smalls. 

Keith Brown, Catawba Cultural Preservation Project, Catawba pottery maker, Rock Hill.  Catawba Indian Keith Brown is continuing the Catawba Indians' pottery tradition, which some consider the Catawba nation’s greatest legacy and believe to be South Carolina’s oldest continuing art form. The clay-working tradition of the Catawba Indian Nation, a simple, elegant style that is instantly recognizable, is being continued by a new generation of artisans, many of whom are children or grandchildren of pottery makers. Keith, born in Rock Hill in 1951, is a member of the Catawba Nation and grew up on the Catawba reservation, watching his grandmother and other tribal members make pottery and helping his grandmother prepare clay and burn her pottery. More

Ike Carpenter, third generation woodcarver, furniture maker and carpenter. Trenton Ike Carpenter lives near Edgefield in Trenton, South Carolina. His grandfather was known throughout the Edgefield area as a carpenter and farmer and his father took up wood carving at the age of 15. Ike Carpenter is best known for making a special kind of traditional carving that is called “ball and chain” or “ball and cage.” These carvings are extremely difficult to make and are designed to show off a carver’s virtuosity. They are made entirely out of one piece of wood that has not been sawed, glued or pieced together. More

M. Jeannette Gaillard Lee, master sweetgrass basket maker, Mt. Pleasant.  As a youngster, Jeannette Lee learned the art of sweetgrass basket making from her mother and grandmother. The activity was an essential part of her childhood and often provided a significant portion of her family’s income. “When there were no jobs in the Mt. Pleasant area, my family would make baskets and take the ferry over to Charleston to sell them in the market,” she said. Sweetgrass basket making is a tradition specific to the South Carolina coast. It came to the state with enslaved West Africans from the “rice coast” (now Sierra Leone). More

Joseph “Cap’n  Crip” Legree, cast net weaver, St. Helena Island.  A living legacy in the St. Helena community, Joseph  Legree, Jr. has spent his life preserving the cultural values and traditions of his Gullah ancestors. A community partner with Penn Center for more than 20 years, Legree contributes to the oral history and folklife of the Gullah people by demonstrating the craft of cast net weaving as a presenter at the Center’s annual Heritage Days Celebration. For decades Legree has demonstrated the connection between Gullah culture in South Carolina and West African art forms to dozens of groups of all ages. More

Marlena Smalls founded the Hallelujah Singers in 1990 to preserve the Gullah culture of the South Carolina Sea Islands. The ensemble’s richly entertaining performances preserve and celebrate the heritage of the Gullah culture, with language and traditions indelibly linked to West African heritage. Performances weaving music and narration present a dramatization of the unique people, rituals and ceremonies which played an important part in shaping the Gullah culture and its influence on the broad musical traditions. More

Freddie Vanderford, Piedmont blues player, Buffalo. Growing up in Buffalo, South Carolina, Vanderford first learned to play the mouth harp, or harmonica, from his grandfather, who played “old mountain songs” on the instrument. Initially, Vanderford blended the country style of his grandfather with the sound of the Chicago blues. However, an encounter with the Piedmont blues of Arthur “Peg Leg Sam” Jackson would forever change Vanderford’s musical style. To view an audio slideshow, click here.  More