Attendees at an artists’ reception May 6 marked the opening of “Return to Nature: Gullah Geechee Story and History.” From left are Dr. Emory Campbell, Hank Herring, Diane Britton Dunham, Amiri Geuka Farris, James Denmark, curator Angela Dore, and Arianne King-Comer. COURTESY MAYE RIVER QUILT GUILD

“Return to Nature: Gullah Geechee Story and History” is an art exhibition that explores the plight of the indigenous Americans and descendants of West Africans who inhabit the Sea Islands of South Carolina. The exhibition opened May 3 and ends on June 25 at the Coastal Discovery Museum.

The event features the original works of Jonathan Green, Amiri Farris, Natalie Daise, Diane Britton Dunham, Arianne King-Comer, Hank D. Herring, James Denmark, and Sam Doyle.

This exhibition features dynamic bodies of work that examine the evolution of Gullah Geechee art, while chronicling history in relation to nature. While the artists depict aspects of the lives of ordinary people, the layered textures, and rich, vivid colors emanate the celebration of Creole culture, the vitality of the subject, and nobility.

Both the art and the objects featured in this exhibition introduce viewers to a culture that is dominated by the honoring of ancestors, agriculture, sea island living, spirituality, and cultural heritage memories.

“I am thrilled to be launching this extraordinary exhibition, which features the work of the masters and avant-gardists of authentic Gullah art.,” said curator Angela Dore. “I am looking forward to telling our stories about Gullah heritage and engaging in dialogues about the ways in which history is documented in our art forms. It is my desire that this exhibition will broaden and enrich the perspectives of our local and national audience.”

Natalie Hefter, vice president of programs for Coastal Discovery Museum, said “Exhibiting works by these artists together is a great opportunity for visitors and locals alike. This exhibit is a manifestation of the museum’s mission ‘to inspire people to care for the Lowcountry.’ These works depict the Gullah connection to the Lowcountry environment, and I hope all our visitors will take away a new appreciation for the history and rich culture of the area.”

Coastal Discovery Museum is located at 70 Honey Horn Drive on Hilton Head Island. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

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