20th Anniversary of Hurricane Hugo Celebrated through “East Wind Suite: The Hugo Series”
Converse College presents a gallery talk featuring artist Dr. Leo F. Twiggs on Thursday, September 3, 2009 at 6:15 pm in Daniel Recital Hall, Blackman Music Building. A reception with the artist will follow. This event marks the opening of the exhibition Leo Twiggs’ Hurricane, which will run from August 27 – September 24 in the Milliken Art Gallery and commemorates the twentieth anniversary of Hurricane Hugo. The events are open to the public with free admission.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is East Wind Suite: The Hugo Series, 1990, a series of nine batik paintings which Twiggs created the year following Hurricane Hugo’s devastation of the South Carolina low country, his childhood home. In addition to this series, the Milliken Art Gallery will display fifteen of Twiggs’ batiks from his personal collection.
The East Wind Suite paintings have not been shown together publicly since their premiere at the Hampton III Gallery in 1991, at which time the series was purchased in its entirety by Greenville businessman Jack Shaw and his wife, Jane, who have loaned the works for the exhibition.
“Converse College is honored to celebrate the masterful skill and emotional power of Dr. Twiggs’ creative expression. When Hurricane Hugo devastated South Carolina’s low country twenty years ago, this talented artist and visionary educator found beauty, hope, action and inspiration in the destruction. His work is much like a phoenix rising from the ashes. With our focus on creativity at Converse, Dr. Twiggs’ life and work are exemplary models,” said Converse president Betsy Fleming, who authored the forward of the exhibition catalog. “Dr. Twiggs and his layered creations involving signs and symbols, people and places of South Carolina are authentic and original. His life’s story, his painstaking creative process of batik, and his determination and skill as an art educator reveal a pride, purpose and passion for South Carolina.”
About the Artist
Leo Franklin Twiggs was born in St. Stephen, South Carolina in 1934. From early on he knew great responsibility; he was in junior high school when his father died and, as the oldest of seven children, he began working to help support the family.
He was a bright student and a hard worker. Encouraged to pursue a college degree, Twiggs worked odd jobs to finance his education. In 1956 he became the first person in his family to graduate from college, receiving a B.A. summa cum laude from Claflin College in Orangeburg, S.C.
At the time Twiggs graduated, South Carolina graduate arts programs did not admit African-American students. So Twiggs left the South, studying at the Art Institute of Chicago and then at New York University.