“Glimpses of Gullah,” an exhibit of the paintings of Samantha Claar, will be featured at the Art League of Hilton Head gallery July 3-28. An opening reception will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. July 11. The event is free and open to the public.
An artist who didn’t start painting until her 40s, Claar moved to Tybee Island in the early 1990s and opened an art gallery there, painting a variety of themes.
Then, “I first saw Gullah people at an art show where (Savannah artist) Al Fireall was painting, although he could barely see,” Claar said. “He was an inspiration for any artist and he touched my heart deeply.”
She continued painting as she had before, but in 2008, something amazing happened. “I started being visited/ dreaming and compelled to paint the people who dropped by,” she said. “It was hard to convince me to ‘paint the stories,’ as I felt totally unqualified. I had never painted a person. This became my initiation in how their faith drives my painting. Faith that I can put this on canvas, I can be a conduit, I can be me and represent these visions and foster understanding and give a visual of what I have been shown.”
She believes she has been gifted with this insight and she must educate those who see her work, to help them better understand the Gullah. “I never realized, assimilated, or understood just how much my life was impacted by the introduction of the Gullah-Geechee and the rich, vibrant culture that they crafted in the midst of unspeakable conditions,” Claar said. “I want you to desire to know this culture we have so benefitted from, celebrate that it still exists, and be a part of our responsibility to fully embrace their culture for the gift that it is … still. While looking at my work, I want you to experience the joy of being a fellow human with these remarkable people.”
Claar will be on hand at the gallery from noon to 3 p.m. July 3, 5, 6, 10 and 27; and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 18-19. She invites guests to come meet her and take a selfie with her Fence People.
Along with Claar’s featured art, the works of more than 100 member artists will be on display.
Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, and 90 minutes before all Arts Center performances.
The Art League gallery is located at 14 Shelter Cove Lane on Hilton Head Island, inside the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina. For more information, visit artleaguehhi.org or call 843-681-5060.