DENMARK - The South Carolina Arts Commission, in partnership with South Carolina Humanities, hosted the Communal Pen, a thought-provoking writing workshop on Dec. 1 at the Wright-Potts Library on the campus of Voorhees College.
The workshop facilitators were Eboni Ramm, a Columbia spoken-word artist and jazz singer, and Michelle Ross, folklorist and University of South Carolina-Sumter anthropology professor.
Ross used the Smithsonian exhibition "Crossroads: Change in Rural America" as inspiration to engage participants in meaningful dialogue and creative writing activities. "Crossroads" was presented on the Voorhees campus through the Museum on Main Street program as part of the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service through Dec. 9.
The Communal Pen brought visitors to the campus from various regions of the state and all walks of life. Beaufort resident and former litigator Jim Gibson said he participated with hopes of learning how to “become a better storyteller and document my family history for my children and grandchildren.” He described the Smithsonian exhibition as “second to none, first class and professional. It captures all of small town America from Texas to Maine. It’s a great way to travel cheap.”
Denmark Technical College art student Jessie Collins appreciated the workshop, noting that it ”gave me an opportunity to open up and be creative."
“The exhibit shows our history. We should look and appreciate it whether it’s good or bad without using it as a crutch, but using it as a catalyst to move forward,” Collins said.
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Mary Greene of Beaufort brought her love for “family stories that preserve history for future generations.” She said the workshop and exhibition were “fascinating and took special consideration of social, geographical and racial diversity in community.”
The Communal Pen workshop reminded Aiken resident Chris Hall that “stories connect us all. Our stories remind us that we have more in common than we differ."
“Although I’m not a native of this area, I have grown to love this place. I want to use my art to help bring it up out of the ashes,” said Ashley Jordan, a 2012 graduate and current employee of Denmark Technical College.
Jordan, who was featured as a singer and voice-over talent in a vignette displayed in the Crossroads exhibition, said she “wanted to be a part of this because we know that history repeats itself, and rural America is stitched in the fabric that has kept this country together.”
She added, “I want to celebrate that sense of family, love and the feeling that everybody has got your back that I love about the South,"
Contact Voorhees College Historian\Archivist Richard Reid at 803-780-1225 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about upcoming programs.