Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Tobacco Barns of the Pee Dee to Open November 5th

Photography Exhibit to Showcase the Work of Benton Henry

Tobacco farming was once a way of life for many in the Pee Dee region. Today, our farmlands are not dominated by tobacco, though traces of the crops past dominance are evident. Tobacco barns dot our landscape and a heritage trail in the honor of the crop runs from I-95 in Darlington County to US501 along the Grand Stand.

On November 5th from 5:30 to 7:00pm, the Black Creek Arts Center will host an opening reception for Tobacco Barns of the Pee Dee. Visually, this exhibit highlights the structures that transformed a harvested crop into a commodity that people depended on- as income and consumable good.

The exhibit, produced by BCAC and funded in part by the Humanities Council of South Carolina and the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation, & Tourism, features the photography of Benton Henry. Henry, a native of Latta, has a tremendous collection of photographs of tobacco barns. "These photos are a small, representative sample of the overall collection," states Bruce Douglas of BCAC. "There are hundreds more of the same quality as the ones we have on display. Narrowing them down was the hardest part of the project," added Douglas.

The narrowing down of the photos was carried out by Henry, Douglas, and Coker College Art Professor Jim Boden. "We wanted the exhibit's level of artistic quality to be on par with the historical significance of the subject matter," stated Douglas. "That's why we got Jim involved."

Also working on the project was Dr. Wink Prince of Coastal Carolina University. Prince wrote the interpretive text that accompanies the exhibit. Prince's credentials in tobacco farming in the South are unparalleled. His book, Long Green: The Rise and Fall of Tobacco in South Carolina, is widely considered the authority on the subject. Prince was interviewed by Walter Edgar of ETV's Walter Edgar's Journal about his involvement with the exhibit.

The exhibit will remain at BCAC for the month of November. The Arts Center is open from 10-1 and 3-6 Tuesday through Thursday and 11-3 on Friday.

In addition to Henry's work, a series of photos by Cliff Jones will be on display in the Arts Center's upstairs gallery. Jones won two awards during The Carolinas II photography contest this summer.

The mission of Black Creek Arts Council is to promote and foster the Arts in Darlington County. BCAC’s offices are housed in a state of the art 10,000 square foot facility at 116 West College Avenue in Hartsville, SC. BCAC offers a variety of programs including art classes of all styles, after-school activities, pre-school aged programs, private music lessons, and various types of gallery exhibits. BCAC also offers assistance with arts management, funding, education, and program coordination to arts and cultural organizations in Darlington County.

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