COLUMBIA – The State Museum is proud to present, Requiem for Mother Emanuel, opening Saturday, Jan. 27. This visually moving and thought provoking exhibition, produced by South Carolina artist Dr. Leo Twiggs, is a series of nine paintings created in the aftermath of the violent shooting at Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston in June 2015. Requiem for Mother Emanuel is a powerful culmination of Twiggs’ life’s work, and will be accompanied by a number of programs presented by the State Museum.
Twiggs began work on these pieces soon after the shooting. Painting provided a vehicle for the artist to process this awful event and search for meaning, as he continued working into 2016. The final series reveals his reflections on not only the shooting, but also the aftermath including the responses of the family members, the church and fellow citizens.
“My paintings are testimonies to the nine who were slain. But I also record another moment: our state’s greatest moment; a response that moved us from tragedy to redemption,” says Twiggs. “For one shining moment, we looked at each other not as different races, but as human beings.”
In the days and weeks after the tragedy, Charleston’s Mother Emanuel received an outpouring of support, as visitors from around the world came to express their condolences and left handmade prayer quilts, letters, flowers and countless other items in front of the church. In conjunction with the exhibition of Twiggs’s work, the State Museum will exhibit some of these items from the church. Requiem for Mother Emanuel is also accompanied by a seven-minute video by Sailwind Pictures featuring Dr. Twiggs, and is an exploration of the context and inspiration for his work.
“Requiem for Mother Emanuel is an incredibly moving exhibition; reflective and ultimately inspiring, which is amazing considering it’s a response to something so horrific,” says Lori Kornegay, State Museum curator of art. “It represents a seminal moment in Dr. Twiggs’s long and distinguished artistic career, as if he had been preparing for this difficult task his whole life. The depth and complexity of the work is profound and gives voice to our collective grief and aspirations, both as South Carolinians and brothers and sisters in this world.”
Symbols and signifiers of the South’s complicated racial history have been reflected in Twiggs’s work throughout his 60-year career. Works of art can offer moments of transcendence and with the exhibition Requiem for Mother Emanuel, Twiggs provides such a moment. To help facilitate and explore guest’s reaction to the exhibit, the State Museum will offer Circles of Dialogue. These facilitator-led discussion groups will be held throughout the run of the show on selected Tuesday nights.
Circles of dialogue
Discussion groups will be offered Tuesday evenings from 6:30 until 8 p.m. throughout the run of the exhibition. Guests are invited to join a facilitator-led discussion group to explore their reactions to Requiem for Mother Emanuel. Any guest who purchases a museum general admission ticket can return and participate in one of the discussions listed above or they can arrive early on that Tuesday to view the exhibit and later join the discussion. Each Circle of Dialogue will be facilitated by Dr. Deborah J. Walker, who has worked as a multicultural and organizational development consultant for over 25 years. See our website for details on signing up to participate.
The State Museum will host a day of programs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., Saturday, March 10. Art Day will serve as an opportunity to recognize Twiggs for his many contributions to the arts community in South Carolina, where he has been an influential leader for decades. The day’s activities will include a gallery talk by Twiggs, music performances by Mother Emanuel AME choir and Indigo Soul, South Carolina artists working throughout the museum, behind-the-scenes tours, hands-on family activities and more.