South Carolina State Museum Presents New Exhibition: The Graphic Eye

Exhibition showcases a century of graphic design, from the 19th century to concert posters

COLUMBIA, S.C., Sept. 15, 2020 – The South Carolina State Museum is excited to announce the opening of its new art exhibition, The Graphic Eye: South Carolina and the Intersection of Art and Design. From mass-produced media of the early 20th century to posters of today, The Graphic Eye explores South Carolina’s strong and diverse connection to the graphic arts. Guests are invited to examine the difference between art and design and consider when art can also be design and vice versa.

“In our current era, communication design is more ubiquitous than ever,” says State Museum Art Curator Amy Chalmers. “We live in an unprecedented moment where we see hundreds, if not thousands, of images a day. We understand ‘graphic design’ as a primarily digital, commercial concept. This exhibit seeks to give it more historical context.”

The scope of the exhibition spans the past century, and traces important changes in culture and technology. Featured in the show are Jasper Johns’ prints, Shepard Fairey’s political posters, commercial art and advertisements from the 1950s and 60s, and work by artists such as Sallie Frost Knerr, Anna Heyward Taylor, and Leo Twiggs. The thriving industry of contemporary graphic design will also be represented, with posters and other projects by prominent creatives currently working across the state.

“My hope is that visitors will question the distinction between what we consider ‘art for art’s sake’ and ‘commercial art’,” says Chalmers. “This exhibit looks at art that uses graphic conventions, as well as commercial work with strong artistic value.”

Guests will also learn about the origins of what we now call ‘graphic design’ by exploring the development of different methods of printing and printmaking, typography, illustration, and advertising throughout the last century. The exhibition demonstrates that many artists have blurred the boundaries and challenged the definition of ‘fine art.’ by employing graphic conventions. This includes the use of reproductive printing and text combined with images, symbols, simple shapes and flat colors. The exhibition also invites guests to discover how to better read images in order to analyze how color and composition are utilized to convey specific messages, ideas and feelings.

The Graphic Eye: South Carolina and the Intersection of Art and Design is free with museum membership or general admission. General admission to the South Carolina State Museum is $8.95 for adults; $7.95 for Seniors; $6.95 for children; infants 2 and under are free.

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