An exhibit of works by Converse College alumna Margaret M. Law (1871-1956) has been selected as the inaugural exhibit in the Spartanburg County History Museum’s new residency in the Chapman Cultural Center in Spartanburg. The exhibit will open with a premier reception October 16 from 5-7 p.m., and will continue its run through December 30. For more information, call (864) 596-3501.
Dr. Suzanne Schuweiler-Daab, Associate Professor of Art History at Converse, served as guest curator for the exhibition. She selected the works for the exhibit and also serves as the interviewer for a video in the exhibit which includes comments from cotton pickers, peach farmers and family members. The exhibit features Law’s artwork and her artifacts woven to depict life in Spartanburg during the 1900’s. The story of the exhibit is centered on peach harvesting and the textile mill life in Spartanburg County. Demonstrations and lectures are also planed throughout the event.
By viewing her paintings and prints found in Spartanburg’s Regional History Museum collection, viewers glean a history of the county during the 1920’s-50’s. The viewer can also see Spartanburg’s transition from a cotton-growing region supplying the cotton for textile mills, to a leading peach growing area after the boll weevil infestation devastated the cotton fields.
Law graduated from Converse in 1895, and was the college’s first art major to do so. After Converse, she furthered her studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Art in Philadelphia before moving on to New York to study at the Cooper Art School, the Art Students League and the Chase School (officially called the New York School of Art). She also spent a year in Paris, France under the tutelage of Cubist painter Andre Lhote.
In 1915, Law accepted a teaching position at Bryn Mawr, a private school for girls, in Baltimore, Maryland. She would continue to teach for twenty years.
Law returned to Spartanburg in 1935 and was named as Art Supervisor for the Spartanburg School District, a post she would hold until deciding to retire in 1946. In September 1935 Law retired from her job in Baltimore and moved back to Spartanburg where she became the art supervisor for until she retired in 1946.
In 1936, the Brooklyn Museum in New York displayed works by nineteen of Law’s students, and The American Crayon Company included artwork from some of Law’s Spartanburg students in its New York exhibit.
Writing in the exhibit catalog for the Chapman Cultural Center exhibit, Schuweiler-Daab writes "Law, whose irrepressible free spirit took her from Spartanburg to New York City, Baltimore, Paris and Mexico, will be remembered for her paintings and prints of Spartanburg the county where she grew up. Whether depicting fieldworkers, peach pickers, or mill workers, her love of humanity shines through. She took common, everyday subjects and elevated them to an artistic level in various mediums including oil paint, lithography, watercolor, linoleum prints and etchings. These were shown all over the country, including New York City; Baltimore, Maryland; Austin, Texas; San Francisco and in Paris, France."