Opening September 29 at the preserved-as-found Aiken-Rhett House Museum, master dyer and environmental artist, Mary Edna Fraser, will present a visual arts exhibit, FLIGHT. The exhibit, on display September 29 through November 27, is comprised of nine groupings of oil paintings to tell stories of the FLIGHT of enslaved men and women and to honor their stories. Poems by Marjory Wentworth, former Poet Laureate of SC, and J. Drew Lanham will be on display in the historic house’s most poignant and powerful spaces. Silks drape through rooms suggesting the spirits of the lost and finally, batiks on silk and oils will add a visual narrative to the poetry.
Half of all profit from art sales will go to the Charleston based Center for Heirs Property – Preserving Family Land. Their legal and forestry work has started an economic and land conservation movement that creates intergenerational wealth among historically underserved landowners.
A batik is an ancient dye-resist process in which removable wax is applied to fabric; creating areas that will resist dyes while the unwaxed areas will absorb dyes. An interactive touch board will be available in the exhibit space to allow guests to feel dyed silk as the oils on your hands would destroy the original batiks on exhibit.
FLIGHT will be installed as a temporary, visual arts exhibition at the historic Aiken-Rhett House Museum at 48 Elizabeth Street in downtown Charleston. This 1820s mansion is a unique and one-of-a-kind setting for a visual arts exhibition because the powerful stories of the men and women, enslaved and enslaver, who lived and worked on the property and the restoration style that the Foundation has chosen.
When the Foundation assumed ownership in 1995, we adopted a preserved-as-found preservation approach, meaning the structure and contents are left in an “as-found” state, including furniture, architecture and finishes that have not been altered since the mid 19th century. While many dependency buildings in Charleston have been demolished or adapted, the Aiken-Rhett Enslaved Quarters – with their original paint, floors and fixtures – survive virtually untouched since the 1850s, allowing visitors the unique chance to better comprehend the every-day realities of the enslaved men and women who lived at the property.
Preserved-as-found means that the Aiken-Rhett House Museum is frozen in time, in a remarkable example of life and architecture of the early nineteenth century. The almost, blank slate, is a beautiful juxtaposition for the delicate, art of Mary Edna Fraser.
FLIGHT will be on display September 29 through November 27 at the Aiken-Rhett House Museum. Admission to the visual art exhibit is included with House Museum tickets. For more information about the Aiken-Rhett House Museum and to purchase tickets, visit our tickets page. The Aiken-Rhett House Museum dates to the 1820s and is unfortunately not handicap accessible.