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    the final week & some final thoughts | Wed. Dec. 5, 2012

    It’s hard to believe that this Saturday, December 8th will be the last day of the Pulse Dome Project exhibition! So many people came together and worked hard to make this exhibition happen – Don ZanFagna’s family, Clemson Architecture students, Halsey Institute volunteers. Not everything went as planned, but in the spirit of ZanFagan’s evolving & researching, I think that is just fine. Even though his work won’t be on the Halsey’s walls anymore, his ideas are sure to resonate with our community for a long time.

    To help the resonance, we’d like to invite the whole community to join us for a free eco-bio-architecuture symposium this Saturday! There will be four speakers and a period of audience discussion. We’ll have a lovely reception sponsored by WildFlour Pastry at the Halsey Institute and reflect once again on the potentially world changing themes in ZanFagna’s work. The symposium is co-sponsored by the Halsey Institute, the College of Charleston’s First-Year Experience program and Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston.


    Mark Sloan | Pulse Dome Project: Art & Design by Don ZanFagna

    Mark Sloan will discuss the Pulse Dome Project: Art & Design by Don ZanFagna exhibition. Sloan will provide an overview of the artist’s life and work with a focus on the ideas underlying the Pulse Dome Project.

    Mark Sloan has been the director and senior curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art since 1994. He has a particular interest in visionary art and artists.



    David Pastre | Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston

    David Pastre will present the process, failures and findings of the students in CAC.C’s Studio V program that attempted to build a Pulse Dome-inspored structure for the fountain at Marion Square.

     David Pastre is the Shop Manager and a Lecturer for Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston and heads up the Charleston branch of Architecture+CommunityBUILD, a Clemson program that uses design to address social justice issues and create community.


    Linda Weintraub | It Breathes. It Eats. It Digests. It Grows: Pioneering Architecture in the 1970s and 2010s

    Weintraub will examine bionics architecture in which physiological functions of living organisms provide models of sustainable strategies with proven success. Bionic architecture applies the efficient energy flow patterns and material cycling of resilient organisms to the built environment. Bionics architecture is bio-degradable / bio-energetic / bio-dynamic / bio-geochemical / bio-dynamic.

    Linda Weintraub is a curator, educator, artist, and author of several popular books about contemporary art. Her recent writing explores the vanguard intersection between art and environmentalism. She served as the Henry Luce Professor of Emerging Art at Oberlin College, and as the director of the Edith C. Blum Art Institute located on the Bard College campus where she originated fifty exhibitions and published over twenty catalogues. Weintraub received her MFA degree from Rutgers University. She maintains a homestead on an eleven-acre property in upstate New York where she actively applies the principles of Permaculture to food production, land management, and energy generation. She is living in the eighth home that she and her husband designed and built. It is a super-efficient industrial Galvalum structure. 

    William Katavolos | Liquid Architecture: History and Concepts from Idea to Fruition

    Katavalos will be presenting the history of the idea behind water as a building material and the concept of liquid architecture as a viable solution to our current architectural dilemma.

    William Katavolos has been a professor of architecture at the Architecture School at Pratt Institute since the 1960s. He is the co-director of the Center of Experimental Structures where liquid architecture has been widely explored and developed. His early furniture designs are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Louvre. Katavolos’ manifesto Organics, published in Holland in 1961 became the basis for chemical architecture. His theory of the fundamental structure of nature is being prepared now for publication. He splits his time between Key West and New York.


    Some people in the community may have heard about a recent development with Clemson Architecture Center’s semester-long project to design and build a Pulse Dome, but for those of you that have not, I’ll catch you up. The first problem they encountered was the structural viability of the bridge, then the Washington Light Infantry denied their permit to use the fountain at Marion Square, then the bamboo began to break. The problem occurred when the students had to lash two or more pieces of bamboo together in order to get the proper length of the large dome arch. The bamboo, when bent and continuously stressed would break where the overlapping bamboo terminated. The decision was made to not lash the pieces to make the full arch length, but rather form the dome then join the two ends when they meet. To make sure everything lined up, the joints were labelled on each piece of bamboo. It took some elbow grease to bend the bamboo into place then lash them quickly. 





    Although the dome is not in Marion Square, it is still complete and able to hold the weight of walkers. The students constructed the dome in the yard of their workshop on Simons Street.











    Earth Day Advocate | Wed. Nov. 28, 2012

    Don ZanFagna’s research, ideas and art all point to a man that is passionately concerned not only for the well-being of humans, but for the Earth itself. It only stands to reason that he would be involved, at the earliest date possible, in a national grassroots movement focused on raising awareness about environmental issues and concern for public health. ZanFagna was a speaker at the very first Earth Day in 1970. Now more than 40 years old, Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd by 500 million people world-wide!  

    Here are some of the letters of commendation and recognition that ZanFagna received because of his participation in Earth Day 1970.



    Each year, Earth Day, April 22, marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement. In 1970, protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.

    At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. Concern for the environment was not commonplace as it is today. The first Earth Day in 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness and public awareness for living organisms and public health, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center. 

    The idea came to Earth Day founder Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, after witnessing the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, he realized that if he could infuse that energy with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution, it would force environmental protection onto the national political agenda. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a “national teach-in on the environment” to the national media; persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair; and recruited Denis Hayes as national coordinator. Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the country 

    As a result, on the 22nd of April, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in coast-to-coast rallies. Colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment. Groups that had been fighting against oil spills, polluting factories and power plants, raw sewage, toxic dumps, pesticides, freeways, the loss of wilderness, and the extinction of wildlife suddenly realized they shared common values.

    Earth Day 1970 achieved a rare political alignment, enlisting support from Republicans and Democrats and Congress was on recess for the day. The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water and Endangered Species Acts.


    Information source: Earth Day Network

    Cyborgs invade popular media! | Fri. Nov. 23, 2012

    Here is a collection of book covers, movie posters and comic books that illustrate the prevalence of the “Cyborg” as an idea in popular culture. Quite a comparison study with Don ZanFagna’s Cyborg Series, no?






    Here are a few of Don ZanFagna’s Cyborg pieces.




    Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston | Thu. Nov. 15, 2012

    By now you all know that Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston is building a structure inspired by Don ZanFagna’s research and artwork. But! Did you know that you can follow their every move through the whole process? it’s true! (mostly) 

    CAC.C students in David Pastre’s Studio V class are keeping a very active blog of their research, design and building procedures. Experience the breakthroughs, the heartbreaks and the elation that accompanies the evolution of Charleston’s very own Pulse Dome! Before you rush over to their blog to catch up on all the excitement, here’s the Pulse Dome we think their design is most reminiscent of —

     Pulse Dome #31


    AND! here are some great sneak peek images from the blog —



    To read all about the Clemson Architecture students’ journey, head over to their blog ::


    Q & A | Thu. Nov. 8, 2012

    It’s now three weeks into the Pulse Dome Project exhibition and we’ve been getting alot of really interesting questions from gallery visitors and tour groups.These answers should provide some insight into the Don ZanFagna’s Pulse Dome world!

    I know that Don ZanFagna didn’t exhibit his work after dropping out of the commercial art work in the late ’60s. How did Don ZanFagna’s family discover his vast amount of artwork?

    Don ZanFagna moved with his wife to the Lowcountry three years ago to be close to their nephew Everett White and his family. Everett, an artist himself, is a surrogate son and has been close to the ZanFagna’s since he was a teenager in Illinois. He has spent hours working along with Don in his studio and over the course of the years was aware that his uncle had much of his life’s work carefully packed and stored away. Everett and his wife Joanna opened a gallery on Sullivan’s Island and were determined to unpack Don’s work and present a series of retrospectives at their gallery. His work was received so enthusiastically that a former gallery manager, Allison Williamson, took up the cause to bring ZanFagna’s work to the attention of today’s art world.


    How did Don ZanFagna come up with the Pulse Dome?

    ZanFagna took existentialism, entwined it with ecological awareness, then injected it with architectural savvy and came up with the Infra/Ultra Architectural Foundation, an ecological design think tank. Out of this grew his “Pulse Dome” series. His notebooks examine the nature of change and upheaval amid the uncertain frontier where technology, robotics, space exploration, DNA/biology, ecology, sexuality, and cosmic relativism were all coming together.

    ZanFagna said, “I saw art, architecture, and the environment as inseparable in the formulation of a new ethos, but I could see that specific triad nowhere reflected. It appeared to me that what was lacking in architecture was a conceptual imagination which derived from a genuine concern for people, knowledge of environmental/ecological systems, and judicious use of materials; what was lacking in art was the structural expertise and vision through which its newly emerging concepts could be more effectively realized; and what was lacking in the general environment was sensitivity to and understanding of its own debilitating condition. To achieve ‘integrated research and design in art, architecture, and environment’ [with Infra/Ultra] we seek to expand the conceptual, metaphorical, and actualized event situations which arise as a result of working with people, objects, and processes, and their comprehensive significance. We seek to facilitate not only new conceptual insights but design conversion as well.”


    What is Micro-Max Pocket Systems I & II? It doesn’t really look like it relates to the Pulse Dome series.

    This piece was in the Whitney Museum’s Art World exhibition in September and October of 1976. The works in this series should be considered as both metaphor and event-object. They are both Art-ecotecture and Eco-biotecture, reflecting the relations between art and nature and technology. It is a significant dimension of ZanFagna’s Infra/Ultra environment design group research into nature and benign technology. He says, “The implications of miniaturization are almost too enormous to contemplate in art/architecture and other environmental endeavors. They form one part of an extended series of metaphoric approaches in which the Bio/Architectural implications of miniaturization, low-energy systems are linked both to finite ecological resources and alternative eco-technical possibilities and to the implications of human activity, especially that of architecture.” One element in the Micro-Max sculpture “all the books of the world in the palm of your hand” premeditated the Amazon Kindle.

    It seemed clear to ZanFagna that it would be only a matter of a few years before most of these vectors, art and architecture, biology and technology, become a reality; perhaps not in the form presented here, but within the same context of miniaturized, low bio-tech processes and the computer itself.

    The evolution of these systems, conceptually, covers an extended period of time. The implied dimensions of both research and execution have been given thoughtful consideration. The systems are not simply science fiction whims, but derive from a close study of miniaturization, the sciences of the artificial, and other related disciplines and technology. These have been linked to ZanFagna’s central concerns for the implication of this emerging, benign technology and its accompanying biological counterparts on architecture and its future. He did not undertake to objectively create projects that would purport to have an affect on the course of architecture. In his work he meant simply to present some componential features related to the descriptive information implied in the subtitle, Metaphor & Event-Object, of these Micro-Max Systems.


    Would you call Don ZanFagna an environmentalist?

    ZanFagna’s notebooks reveal an artist deeply engaged with the rapid social and technological changes that took place over the course of the 1960s and 70s—an era of cutting-edge transformation in everything from space exploration and robotics to personal computing and biological research. By the late 1960s, ZanFagna was growing especially concerned about society’s trajectory. It was clear to him that radical change was needed if the human species was going to live in harmony with nature. In addition to Infra/Ultra, he started a new company called CEASE, the Center for Ecological Action to Save the Environment, which provided consulting services to numerous individual and institutional clients. He was a speaker at the first Earth Day in 1970, a wildly popular mass demonstration that reached millions of Americans and played a role in the establishment of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts. In their integration of art, architecture, and environmental consciousness, ZanFagna’s works are, in retrospect, both very much of their time and also eerily prescient, prefiguring a number of vital and current artistic practices.

    ZanFagna may be more accurately described as a Futurist. He is a social scientist that not only specializes in attempting to systematically predict the future of humanity, but also to provide solutions, however metaphorical, to humanity’s projected downfalls.


    What are some of the notes and quotes in Don ZanFagna’s notebooks?

    “I keep thinking that somewhere, somehow there must be a better way to utilize and impound sun energy. My chlorophyll-pulse-dome ideas I’m sure will someday become a reality of some kind… Somewhere, there is a very obvious and simple solution. Perhaps it may rest in some combination of solid, gas, liquid, – a vague truism I know, but nevertheless things such as ethyl alcohol and carbon particles for solar panels do exist – and for now are better than plain water… The idea of a stretched, chlorophyll membrane has always been uppermost in my thoughts about bio-architecture – an intuition more than anything.”

    “If large buildings are indeed oppressive of human spirit – dehumanizing – why continue to erect them? If urban sprawl is destroying what is left of the natural landscape why continue to ‘sprawl’? The question of density has to be reduced within this framework of ‘human needs.’ – That’s the ‘catch-all’ – no one and everyone. To replace all this – an ecological/biological architecture. An architecture which, in effect WILL NOT BE ARCHITECTURE as we have historically understood it, but an unobtrusive complete shelter which will have the effect of living in/with nature and all the artificial requirements and technological amenities – It isn’t a question of whether we can do this – we must. All attempts, so far, to resolve the issue, are conceptual failures – start anywhere.”


    What message is Don ZanFagna trying to send with these works?

    ZanFagna is very insistent that his work is about pure “expression” as opposed to an intentional message. He often quoted Cecil B. DeMille’s famous statement, “If I wanted to send a message, I’d go to Western Union.” The Pulse Dome Project was a cry in the dark, a proclamation to all people, especially those charged with shaping our built environment, to grasp the reality that our current system is at odds with nature—and therefore unsustainable. While this position is the accepted orthodoxy today, at the time ZanFagna was making these statements he was not following a trend, he was helping to establish one. The Pulse Dome Project remains as a testament to one man’s attempt to apprehend a comprehensive solution to one of humanity’s most vexing problems—sustainable shelter. Take in the lot of it, and one thing is clear: ZanFagna is a serious and broad thinker who, intentionally or not, confronts the viewer with questions or what he calls “signals… warnings” to ponder.


    What does Don ZanFagna mean by “growing your own house”?

    Curator Mark Sloan says, “He wanted to create something that would allow humans to sustain themselves.” By studying patterns that develop in nature, ancient civilizations like the Mayans and the Egyptians, and even insects like bees, he came to develop the idea of a “pulse dome,” or a structure that was not just a shelter, but a source of energy for the people living inside of it. Reflect on that concept for a moment. What if, instead of greening our buildings and maximizing energy savings, we came up with a whole new approach to building that turned our homes into living, sustainable organisms?


      Does Don ZanFagna make money from the Pulse Domes?

    Despite ZanFagna’s early success in West Coast galleries, showing his work at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Pasadena Museum of California Art, and nearly 200 exhibitions nationally and internationally, he has had no interest in the commercial art world since the late 1960s. At that point, he left California for the edgier, more organic New York art scene. He didn’t want gallery owners telling him, “Hey, do more like this, this sells, that doesn’t.” ZanFagna wanted only to nurture and indulge his unedited creativity, to follow raw inspiration. Instead of being a commercial artist, ZanFagna created Infra/Ultra, in 1967-68 that, as ZanFagna said, was based on a “very specific understanding of selected aspects of science, art, and nature; that invisible patterns are rapidly presenting us with a range and depth of information that makes it essential for our future and that is leading us to deeper and newer understandings of nature and ourselves.” To support his family, he began teaching at Rutgers University in the late 1960s, moving through the professorial hierarchy to Chairman of the Art Department. He was also visiting professor of eco-architecture at the Pratt Institute. As best we can tell, when ZanFagna talks about “we” in relation to Infra/Ultra’s projects and research, he is referring to himself and his students. 

    I think Don ZanFagna is crazy/ has a great idea! What do architects and environmental scholars think of the Pulse Domes?

    Since this is the first time ZanFagna’s research, notebooks, and finished Pulse Domes have been exhibited, it is very hard to give any direct answer. He had many intriguing discussions about alternative architecture with Gamal El-Zoghby, a well-known Egyptian architect and a good friend of ZanFagna’s, who still teaches at Pratt Institute. A symposium entitled Bio-Logical Architecture: Past, Present, and Future will occur on the last day of the exhibition, Saturday, December 8 at 2:00pm. It is free and open to the public! Join us at the Recital Hall in the Simons Center for the Arts at 54 St. Philip Street.

    The Halsey Institute will bring in Linda Weintraub, an eco-art-architecture writer, and William Katavolos, an architect and designer that teaches at Pratt Institute. Katavolos was an associate and friend of ZanFagna at Pratt. Weintraub and Katavolos, together with the Halsey Institute’s curator, Mark Sloan will discuss eco-bio-architecture. You’ll have a chance to hear them reflect on the Pulse Dome Project and the intersection of art, environmentalism and architecture. They will examine bionics architecture in which physiological functions of living organisms provide models of sustainable strategies with proven success. The panel will also discuss how ZanFagna’s vision of the possibilities within architecture are not only achievable, but within our grasp. 

    Ideas, flare sheets, and notes | Tue. Oct. 30, 2012

    All of Don ZanFagna’s projects and revelations are dutifully recorded over his career in his 100+ notebooks. This vast collection of notebooks contain private entries, reflections on his voracious reading and research notes covering the entire scientific/academic/mythological landscape. His notebooks examine the nature of change and upheaval amid the uncertain frontier where technology, robotics, space exploration, DNA/biology, ecology, sexuality, and cosmic relativism were all coming together.

    One recorded thought is, “If large buildings are indeed oppressive of human spirit – dehumanizing – why continue to erect them? If urban sprawl is destroying what is left of the natural landscape why continue to ‘sprawl’? The question of density has to be reduced within this framework of ‘human needs.’ – That’s the ‘catch-all’ – no one and everyone. To replace all this – an ecological/biological architecture. An architecture which, in effect WILL NOT BE ARCHITECTURE as we have historically understood it, but an unobtrusive complete shelter which will have the effect of living in/with nature and all the artificial requirements and technological amenities – It isn’t a question of whether we can do this – we must. All attempts, so far, to resolve the issue, are conceptual failures – start anywhere.”



    After spending time ruminating on his theories and investigating solutions, he further defined each project with detailed plans, including three “flare sheets,” specifically targeting environmental concerns. These flare sheet act as manifestos and were ZanFagna’s way of saying, “I’ve noticed a problem our society has or will be experiencing in the future and I think this would be a viable solution.” Here are flare sheets he created for the Infra/Ultra Architectural Foundation and another organization he started, CEASE, the Center for Ecological Action to Save the Environment.



    After further consideration, ZanFagna will create a “note.” A note is the finished product of his research. This does not mean, however, that his investigations into these particular subjects are over. All of his research and projects inform each other, the theories are intertwined. The framed pieces in the Pulse Dome Project exhibition are all notes on the same project. To develop his idea of the Pulse Dome, ZanFagna combined existentialism, ecological awareness, his engineering knowledge and architectural training to evolve the Infra/Ultra Architectural Foundation. ZanFagna said Infra/Ultra was based on a “very specific understanding of selected aspects of science, art, and nature; that invisible patterns are rapidly presenting us with a range and depth of information that makes it essential for our future and that is leading us to deeper and newer understandings of nature and ourselves.” Out of this configuration of ideas, theories and thoughts grew his “Pulse Dome” series.



    And you thought the current presidential race was a mess … | Wed. Oct. 3, 2012

    Senator Alfred Iverson, Sr.  Governor John Forsyth

    (L) Senator Alfred Iverson (R) Governor John Forsyth


    One of F. Scott Hess’s most famous ancestors, Senator Alfred Iverson, was born in Liberty County, Georgia in 1798 and attended Princeton University. He entered politics and became a Georgia state legislator in 1827. After his first wife, Caroline Goode Holt, died in 1830, he married the former Georgia Governor John Forsyth’s eldest daughter, Julia. This catapulted him into the most powerful circles in his state’s politics.

    Abraham LincolnAfter serving as a circuit judge, Alfred Iverson was elected to the U.S. Congress in 1847. His first speech, on the Oregon Territory and the upcoming presidential election, was answered the following day by another first-term congressman, Abraham Lincoln. Working tirelessly for the Democratic Party, states’ rights and the preservation of slavery, Iverson was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1856. He was known as a powerful orator and one of the first southern “fire-eaters”, a nickname for violently pro-secession Southerners. He was one of about
a dozen Southern men whose relentless attacks may have caused the Civil War, although he personally did not expect hostilities to break out. Iverson said, “We intend to go out peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must; but I do not believe that there is going to be any war. If five or eight states go out, they will necessarily draw all the other Southern states after them. I should like to see the man that would propose a declaration of war against them, or attempt to force them into obedience to the federal government at the point of the bayonet or the sword.

    Senator Alfred Iverson was a tireless advocate of secession and slavery for well over a decade, and his time in the Senate was marked by numerous speeches that enraged Northern abolitionists, and often troubled his Southern allies. His goal was the formation of a Southern empire, stating, “There are even now thousands of her sons who believe that the slave states, formed into a separate confederacy, and united under such a government as experience and wisdom would dictate, would combine elements of more political power, national prosperity, social security, and individual happiness, than any nation of ancient or modern times. I am among the number.” He is said to be the first to have spoken openly on the floor of the Senate about the plans for secession, and was chastised for it by his fellow Georgia Senator, Robert Toombs.

     Georgia Senator Robert Toombs Senator Stephen A. Douglas Senator John C. Breckinridge

    L to R: Georgia Senator Robert Toombs, Senator Stephen A. Douglas, John C. Breckinridge


    It is said that southern fire-eaters purposely set out to split the Democratic Party and prevent Senator Stephen A. Douglas from gaining the nomination. Many powerful politicians, including Iverson, were not delegates but worked behind the scenes to achieve their ends. At Charleston, the party was split, with a Southern branch nominating John C. Breckinridge, the rest Douglas. This division guaranteed the presidential election of the republican nominee, Abraham Lincoln, in November 1860.

    At the time of the Convention, the front-runner for the nomination was Stephen Douglas. He was considered a moderate on the slavery issue. In the years leading up to the 1860 Convention, he agreed with the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act. He advanced the doctrine of popular sovereignty: allowing settlers in each territory to decide for themselves whether slavery would be allowed. This was a change from the flat prohibition of slavery in most territories under the Missouri Compromise. But, the Supreme Court’s 1857 Dred Scott decision declared that the Constitution protected slavery in all territories.

    MegaphoneMembers of the Alabama Delegation
may have used this megaphone, a souvenir of the 1860 Democratic National Convention, which took place in the South Carolina Institute Hall in Charleston, but the quotes were certainly added to its sides sometime later. Alabama fire-eater William Lowndes Yancey electrified the audience with his speech against Stephen Douglas and popular sovereignty, and set the stage for the split that ultimately would divide the union. Sometimes called the “Orator of Secession,” Yancey was one of the few Southerners whose speeches did as much to instigate disunion as those of Alfred Iverson.

    In 1858, Douglas had narrowly won Senate re-election by professing the Freeport Doctrine, a de facto rejection of Dred Scott. Now militant Southern fire-eaters, such as William Yancey of Alabama, opposed him as a traitor. Many of them openly predicted a split in the party, and the election of Republican front-runner William H. Seward.

    William Yancey  William H. Seward

    (L) William L. Yancey of Alabama (R) William H. Seward


    The 1860 Democratic National Convention was a pivotal event in the buildup to the Civil War. The Convention was held from April 23 – May 3 in the South Carolina Institute Hall. Institute Hall later burned in the Great Fire of December 1861. The structure stood at 134 Meeting Street, the current site of a commercial real estate firm. Charleston was probably the most pro-slavery city in the U.S. at the time, and the galleries at the convention were packed with pro-slavery spectators.

    Institute Hall  St. Andrew's Hall on Broad Street

    (L) SC’s Institute Hall on Meeting Street  (R) St. Andrew’s Hall on Broad Street

    The fire-eaters demanded the adoption of an explicitly pro-slavery platform. They wanted endorsement of Dred Scott and Congressional legislation protecting slavery in the territories. Northern Democrats refused to acquiesce. Dred Scott was extremely unpopular in the North, and the Northerners said they could not carry a single state with that platform. The minority (Northern) report on the platform was adopted on April 30, 1860 by a vote of 165 to 138. 50 Southern delegates then left the convention in protest.

    The departed delegates gathered at St. Andrews Hall on Broad Street, declared themselves the real convention, and awaited conciliatory action by the Institute Hall convention. That didn’t happen. Instead, the Institute Hall convention proceeded to nominations. The dominant Douglas forces believed their path was now clear. Six major candidates were nominated at the convention: Douglas, former Treasury Secretary James Guthrie of Kentucky, Senator Robert M. T. Hunter of Virginia, Senator Joseph Lane of Oregon, former Senator Daniel S. Dickinson of New York, and Senator Andrew Johnson of Tennessee.

    former Treasury Secretary James Guthrie of Kentucky Senator Robert M. T. Hunter of Virginia Senator Joseph Lane of Oregon 

    former Senator Daniel S. Dickinson of New York Senator Andrew Johnson of Tennessee

    L to R: former Treasury Secretary James Guthrie of Kentucky, Senator Robert M. T. Hunter of Virginia, Senator Joseph Lane of Oregon, former Senator Daniel S. Dickinson of New York, Senator Andrew Johnson of Tennessee


    Iverson worked behind the scenes at the Charleston convention, but it was Senate colleague Robert Toombs, and the powerful Howell Cobb, who really controlled the Georgia delegation. Iverson 
was often dismayed by the sluggishness of his native state on the road to secession, and the delegation’s actions at Charleston were no exception.

     Howell Cobb

    Howell Cobb


    The convention held 57 ballots, and though Douglas led on all of them, he never got more than 152 votes. On the 57th ballot, Douglas got 151½ votes, still 50½ votes short of the nomination, though far ahead of James Guthrie, who was second with 65½. In desperation, on May 3 the delegates voted to adjourn the convention and reconvene in Baltimore six weeks later. The Democrats convened again at the Front Street Theater in Baltimore, Maryland on June 18.

     Front Street Theatre in Baltimore

    The resumed convention’s first business was to decide whether to re-admit the delegates that departed to St. Andrews Hall on Broad Street in Charleston, or to seat replacement delegates who had been named by pro-Douglas Democrats in some states. The credentials committee’s (Southern) majority report recommended re-admitting all delegates except those from Louisiana and Alabama. The (Northern) minority report recommended re-admitting some of the Louisiana and Alabama delegates as well. The committee’s majority report was adopted 150-100½, and the new Louisiana and Alabama delegates were seated. Many additional delegates now withdrew, including most of the remaining Southern delegates, and also a scattering of delegates from northern and far western states.

    The convention resumed voting on a nominee. On the first ballot, Douglas received 173½ of 190½ votes cast. On the second ballot he received 190½ votes of 203½ cast. At this point, the delegates overrode convention chairman Caleb Cushing’s earlier ruling that two-thirds of the convention’s whole membership was required, not just two-thirds of those actually present and voting. They declared by unanimous voice vote that Stephan A. Douglas, having received 2/3 of the votes cast, was nominated. Senator Benjamin Fitzpatrick of Alabama was nominated for Vice President, receiving 198½ votes. However, Fitzpatrick later refused the nomination and was replaced by former Senator Herschel V. Johnson of Georgia.

    Caleb Cushing Benjamin Fitzpatrick Senator Herschel V. Johnson of Georgia

    Left to Right: Caleb Cushing, Benjamin Fitzpatrick, Herschel Johnson


     Battle Cry of FreedomJames M. McPherson suggested in his 1989 Pulitzer Prize-winning book Battle Cry of Freedom that the fire-eater program of breaking up the convention and running a rival ticket was deliberately intended to bring about the election of a Republican as President, and thus trigger secession declarations by the slave-owning states. Whatever the intent of the fire-eaters may have been, it is doubtless many of them favored secession, and the logical, probable, and actual consequence of their actions was to fragment the Democratic party and thereby virtually ensure a Republican victory. No explicit statements of this have been found, even in the private correspondence of prominent fire-eaters. But the open talk at Charleston about Republican victory, and the known revulsion of Northerners towards the pro-slavery doctrines of the Breckenridge ticket, suggests that the fire-eaters had no serious expectation of electing John C. Breckinridge. If so, then it is difficult to find any motive for their program other than provoking secession, but they might have been righteously standing by the law, as set forth in Dred Scott.

     Abraham Lincoln’s victory in the 1860 presidential election was the catalyst for a secession convention in South Carolina. The convention met in Columbia on December 17, but moved to Charleston the next day. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union. That night delegates signed the Ordinance of Secession before a huge crowd in the Grand Hall. About a month later, Senator Iverson’s home state of Georgia was the fifth to succeed, filing an Ordinance of Succession on January 19, 1861.

    It said, “We the people of the State of Georgia in Convention assembled do declare and ordain and it is hereby declared and ordained that the ordinance adopted by the State of Georgia in convention on the 2nd day of Jany. In the year of our Lord seventeen hundred and eighty-eight, whereby the constitution of the United States of America was assented to, ratified and adopted, and also all acts and parts of acts of the general assembly of this State, ratifying and adopting amendments to said constitution, are hereby repealed, rescinded and abrogated.

    We do further declare and ordain that the union now existing between the State of Georgia and other States under the name of the United States of America is hereby dissolved, and that the State of Georgia is in full possession and exercise of all those rights of sovereignty which belong and appertain to a free and independent State.

    In March of 1861, Georgia officially seceded from the Union and Alfred Iverson resigned from the Senate. He had pushed and pulled a reluctant Georgia along the path to secession, and now he hoped to reap the rewards. It was fellow senator Robert Toombs, however, who got the nod for the Confederate Senate seat from Georgia, and Iverson retired to Columbus to work at various entrepreneurial activities during the war.

    Confederate Senate

    Morbidly Fascinating | Mon. Sep. 17, 2012

    One set of objects in The Paternal Suit exhibition that seems to fascinate people are the two death mask casts of Senator Alfred Iverson. They were made by sculptor Lamar Rankin on the day the Senator died, March 4, 1873. Rankin had a side business to supplement his artist’s income: producing death casts of deceased loved ones, which were then painted and sold as mementos to the grieving families. After casting his replica, Rankin painted the cast in a lifelike manner. For unknown reasons, the Iverson family was not interested in the Senator’s cast. It was found, with dozens of others, in the ruins of the Rankin workshop, in Macon, Georgia when the building was demolished to make room for a Walmart.

    Death mask of Senator Alfred Iverson


    The phenomena of death masks is not unique to the South, nor is the practice relegated to the past. However, our research does seem to indicate that painting the casts to make them appear life-like is unusual. The advent of photography as a means of preserving our loved ones certainly slowed the popularity of death masks. But, they remain in use in our modern age! It is believed that the practice is derived from ancient Egyptian customs. Some notable people for whom death masks exist are Dr. Timothy Leary (1996), Alfred Hitchcock (1980), Ludwig van Beethoven (1827), Napoleon Bonaparte (1821) and William Shakespeare (1616).



    Left to Right: Leary, Hitchcock, Beethoven, Napoleon, Shakespeare


    Ed McCormick of the Association of Lifecasters International reported in the Art Casting Journal said, “Traditionally, a death mask is an exact replica of the face of the deceased, cast in plaster, wax, or metal from a mold taken from the dead. The masks were used throughout the ancient world. They provided an important part in funerary beliefs and practices. They covered the face of the corpse to protect the body from evil spirits while it is laid to rest. Later the mask was placed in the atrium of the family’s house, where it was crowned with laurel on feast days. The mask reminds the family members of what the deceased looked like and reminds them of their life with them. The mask would then be carried in the funeral processions of this descendent.

    Since the 13th century, death masks have aided the sculptors of tomb effigies, but in medieval France and England actual death masks were used for the royal funeral effigies that lay in state.

    Only English examples exist, however; those in France were destroyed during the French Revolution. The mask of Henry VII is probably the finest in existence, and that of Edward III is the earliest European example; the latter records the facial distortion due to his fatal stroke.


     Left: King Henry VII, Right: Prince Edward III


    Death masks are true portraits, although changes are occasionally made in the eyes of the mask to make it appear as though the subject were alive. From the time
of ancient Egypt they have served as aids to portrait sculptors, and for the last few centuries they have been kept as mementos of the dead.

    The earliest effigy remaining is that of Edward III, buried in 1377. The face appears to be the earliest death mask in Europe. Originally, it was given a beard and wig of real hair, with eyebrows made of the hair of a small dog. Because of death masks we know what many historical figures actually looked like including Napoleon, General Grant, George Washington, Franz List, James Joyce and numerous others throughout history.”




    Left to Right: Grant, Washington, List, Joyce

    Secret Ritual | Mon. Sep. 3, 2012

    Frenchman Louis Augistin Le Prince is known as the Father of Cinematography even though beloved American inventor Thomas Edison has been given credit for patenting the single lens camera in 1888. Of the two patents related to motion pictures applied for in 1886 by Louis Augustin Le Prince, this was the only one to be approved. He called it machine the “METHOD OF AND APPARATUS FOR PRODUCING ANIMATED PICTURES OF NATURAL SCENERY AND LIFE.” The single-lens camera came into patent conflict and was not awarded, though a similar patent was granted to Edison several years later.

    These are the drawings Le Prince submitted to the US Patent Office in New York City on November 2, 1886. It was approved on January 10, 1888. The drawings were accompanied by four pages of text describing every minute detail about the inner workings of the cine camera. 































    Le Prince mysteriously disappeared off a Dijon bound train just days before his planned film exhibition at Jumel Mansion, in New York City. He was never seen again. Theories abound as to the cause of his disappearance: suicide because of bankruptcy, fratricide, a family ordered disappearance motivated by his homosexuality, and even murder by Edison henchmen (as some family members believed). 

    What is certain is that Le Prince’s camera filmed the first motion picture ever made, whether one accepts the more conventional attribution of Roundhay Garden Scene, 1888, or Secret Ritual, 1886, now in the collection of the F. Scott Hess Family Foundation. However, Le Prince was not the cameraman behind Secret Ritual, it was a young man named Eddy Westcott.

    The exact connection between F. Scott Hess’s ancestor Dominique Armand-cugnard’s and Louis Augustin Le Prince isn’t known. But, Eddy Westcott (1845–19??), Armand’s brother-in-law, had befriended the french inventor as early as 1881, probably making the acquaintance through Dominique Armand. Westcott, a painter, frequented the studios of the panorama painters that Le Prince managed, and insinuated himself into Le Prince’s experiments with moving pictures. By November of 1886, Le Prince had applied for patents in New York for his cine-camera, and had developed working models. Westcott “borrowed” the camera while Le Prince was overseas applying for english and french patents, and took it to his home in Brooklyn by horse cart. There, he made a surreptitious film of twenty-one-year-old Emily Bacon partially nude, combing her hair. Westcott eventually married Emily, who later insisted the film be destroyed. He claimed compliance with her wishes, but instead left the film plastered into a wall at the Armand family home on 149th Street in New York City. Sealed in a can marked “EW-film 1886, Secret Ritual,” it was among the artifacts of Louis J. Armand gifted to the F. Scott hess family foundation by Eugene Nolan, Jr., in 2006. It is believed to be the earliest surviving motion picture ever made. 

    click here to watch SECRET RITUAL, 1886:  Secret Ritual

    click here to watch ROUNDHAY GARDEN SCENE, 1888:  Roundhay Garden Scene 

    A History of Salt | Tue. Jun. 12, 2012

    In addition to the informative an entertaining essay by New York Times best-selling author Mark Kurlansky in the Return to the Sea exhibition catalogue, Morton Salt published their own highlights of the fascinating uses and value of salt sprinkled throughout  human history .


    The first written reference to salt is found in the Book of Job, recorded about 2,250 BCE. There are 31 other references to salt in the Bible, the most familiar probably being the story of Lot’s wife who was turned into a pillar of salt when she disobeyed the angels and looked back at the wicked city of Sodom.

    Lot's Wife Turning to Salt Raphael (1483-1520 Italian) St. Peter's Basilica, The Vatican, Rome

    From ancient times to the present, the importance of salt to humans and animals has been recognized. Thousands of years ago, animals created paths to salt licks, and men followed seeking game and salt. Their trails became roads and beside the roads; settlements grew. These settlements became cities and nations.

    Ancient Britons carried their crude salt by pack train from Cheshire to Southern England where they often were forced to delay their journey until the high tides of the Thames River subsided. A village known as Westminster grew up there and Westminster became London.

    Salt has greatly influenced the political and economic history of the world. Every civilization has had its salt lore – fascinating superstitions and legends that have been handed down, sometimes reverently and sometimes with tongue-in-cheek. The purifying quality of salt has made it a part of the rituals in some religious ceremonies. 

    “He is not worth his salt” is a common expression. It originated in ancient Greece where salt was traded for slaves.

     Roman soldiers were paid “salt money,” salarium argentum, from which we take our English word, “salary”.

     Salt money

    The early Greeks worshipped salt no less than the sun, and had a saying that “no one should trust a man without first eating a peck of salt with him” (the moral being that by the time one had shared a peck of salt with another person, they would no longer be strangers).


    The widespread superstition that spilling salt brings bad luck is believed to have originated with the overturned salt cellar in front of Judas Iscariot at the Last Supper, an incident immortalized in Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting.

     Last Supper - da Vinci

    Spilled salt - Judas


    According to an old Norwegian superstition, a person will shed as many tears as will be necessary to dissolve the salt spilled. An old English belief has it that every grain of salt spilled represents future tears. The Germans believe that whoever spills salt arouses enmity, because it is thought to be the direct act of the devil, the peace disturber. The French throw a little spilled salt behind them in order to hit the devil in the eye, to temporarily prevent further mischief. In the United States, some people not only toss a pinch of spilled salt over the left shoulder, but crawl under the table and come out the opposite side.

     Salt over your shoulder

    The United States has had its battles over salt. In 1777, Lord Howe made a successful attempt to capture General Washington’s stock of salt. Many battles and treaties took place before Western salt licks were free to be used by settlers.


    During the War of 1812 with England, it became very difficult to obtain salt from abroad. Because of this, commercial production of salt began in Syracuse, New York. During the Civil War, Syracuse production freed the North of all salt problems, but by 1863, Southerners could not buy salt at any price. If the South had been able to protect its salt factories in Virginia and its salt deposits along the Louisiana gulf coast, the War between the States might have ended differently.

     1900 salt workers in Syracuse, NYsalt sheds in Syracuse, NY



    Transporting salt has always been a problem because it is bulky and low priced. Syracuse salt was brought to Chicago by way of the old Erie Canal and the Great Lakes. As early as 1848, the canal was known as “the ditch that salt built.” 

    The Erie canal in 1911 salt-block

    From the earth to our floors: salt production | Thu. Jun. 7, 2012

    There are three methods used to produce salt: solar, evaporation and rock mining. They enable Morton Salt to package their uniform grains of salt into the paperboard cylinders we swept off the shelves at area grocery stores!

    Solar Evaporation Method


    This is the oldest method of salt production. It has been used since salt crystals were first noticed in trapped pools of sea water. Its use is practical only in warm climates where the evaporation rate exceeds the precipitation rate, either annually or for extended periods, and ideally, where there are steady prevailing winds. Solar salt production is, typically, the capturing of salt water in shallow ponds where the sun evaporates most of the water. The concentrated brine precipitates the salt which is then gathered by mechanical harvesting machines. Any impurities that may be present in the brine are drained off and discarded prior to harvesting.

    Usually two types of ponds are used. First is the concentrating pond, where the salty water from the ocean or salt lake is concentrated. The second is called the crystallizing pond, where the salt is actually produced.

    Crystallizing ponds range from to 40 to 200 acres with a foot-thick floor of salt resulting from years of depositions. During the salt-making season of four to five months, brine flows continuously through these ponds. This is a saturated brine solution, containing as much salt as it can hold, so pure salt crystallizes out of the solution as the water evaporates. Natural chemical impurities are returned to the salt water source.

    Rock Salt Mining Method

    Morton also uses the second oldest method of producing salt – underground mining. This is probably the most dramatic method of gathering salt. Large machines travel through vast cave-like passageways performing various operations.

    Salt mines are among the safest of mines. They are also the most comfortable to work in. While mine temperature varies with depth, the average temperature remains about 70° F year round.

    Salt may appear in veins, as does coal. Veins are the original bedded salt deposits. Salt also may be found in domes, which were formed when Earth pressures forced salt up through cracks in the bedrock from depths as great as 30,000 or 40,000 feet; they resemble plugs of almost-circular shape a few hundred yards to a mile across. Some domes occur close to the surface. Both domes and veins are mined in a similar way. Most domes in North America are located in the south from Alabama to Texas with many out under water in the Gulf of Mexico.

    To enter a salt mine, miners go down a shaft from the Earth’s surface to the salt bed. There are two shafts in each Morton mine – one for personnel and one to lower materials and equipment into the mine, as well as to hoist the mined rock salt to the surface. The shafts also are used to deliver a constant supply of fresh air to the miners while they work hundreds to thousands of feet below the surface. Most mine shafts are lined with a concrete wall called a shaft liner.

    Salt is mined by the room and pillar method. It is removed in a checkerboard pattern to leave permanent, solid salt pillars for mine roof support. Usually 45 to 65 percent of the salt is removed. The room height may average 18 feet in a bedded deposit to 100 feet in a dome mine.

    Normally, the first operation is undercutting. Large machines cut a slot 10 or more feet in depth across the bottom of a solid salt wall. This leaves a smooth floor for picking up the salt after blasting.

    Next, small holes are drilled into the salt wall to a depth of 10 or more feet and explosives are loaded into the drilled holes. After the work shift, the explosives are set off electrically. Several hundred to several thousand tons of rock salt are blasted and fall onto the mine floor.

    Equipment is used to load and haul the salt to machines that crush and feed the salt onto a conveyor belt. The lumps are conveyed to a series of stations for crushing and additional sizing of the lumps. The salt is then placed in a storage bin to await hoisting to the surface.

    The above ground processing of the rock salt consists of screening the mined salt into various marketable sizes by sorting through mechanically operated screens. When separated, each size is conveyed to its individual storage bin to await packaging for shipment or to be loaded as bulk salt into railroad cars, trucks, river barges or lake boats for shipment to customers.

    Vacuum Evaporation Method

    Another method of salt production used by Morton Salt is the evaporation of salt brine by steam heat in large commercial evaporators, called vacuum pans. This method yields a very high purity salt, fine in texture, and principally used in those applications requiring the highest quality salt.

    The first part of the operation is known as solution mining. Wells are drilled from several hundred to 1,000 feet apart into the salt deposit. These wells are connected via lateral drilling, a recently developed technology. Once the wells are connected, the solution mining operation begins: water is pumped down one well, the salt below is dissolved, and the resulting brine is forced to the surface through the other well. It is then piped into large tanks for storage.

    Next, the brine is pumped into vacuum pans. These are huge closed vessels under vacuum about three stories high. They are normally arranged in a series of three, four or five, with each one in the line under greater vacuum than the preceding one. This series of vacuum pans operates on a very simple principle: Whenever pressure is lowered, the temperature at which water will boil is also lowered. For instance, under normal air pressure at sea level, water boils at 212°F. But at ten thousand feet above sea level, where air pressure is much less, water boils at 194°F. Vacuum pans may operate at as low as 100°F.

    In the vacuum pan process, steam is fed to the first pan. This causes the brine in the pan to boil. The steam from the boiling brine is then used to heat the brine in the second pan. The pressure in the second pan is lower, allowing the steam made by the boiling in the first pan to boil the brine in the second pan. The pressure is reduced still further in each succeeding pan. This allows the steam made by the boiling brine in the previous pan to boil the brine in the next pan. While the boiling operation could be done with just one pan, several pans in a row produce more salt per pound of steam, thus allowing greater energy efficiency.

    types of salt

    Thank you to the Morton Salt company for providing all this great information!

    Creating works from HICA’s art! | Wed. May. 30, 2012

    Happy Spoleto everyone!

    We’d just like to share some awesome projects that have been inspired from themes, field trips and content in some of the Halsey’s exhibitions. Our imaginations can take us to wonderful places – enjoy!


    Here’s a wikipedia style page for the work of Aggie Zed. She exhibited at the Halsey January 21 – March 10, 2012.

    This is a great Kcymarxthaere-stlye project inspired by Eames Demetrios’s fictional world. He was one of the artists in our Spoleto time show in 2011.

    Aldwyth was our Grand Opening celebration artist in 2009. Check out ALDwiki!


    HUGE thank you to Junius Wright at Academic Magnet High School for creating the framework for his students to explore Halsey Institute exhibitions deeper! It’s really wonderful and inspiration to see what these students have created from the artwork they encountered here. We look forward to collaborating with Junius and other educators in the future!

    Looking forward to remember the past | Wed. May. 2, 2012

    We’re sad to see all the vibrant, intelligent work of Young Contemporaries 2012 go, but this gives way to our 2012 Spoleto Festival USA exhibition.


     Utsusemi- Gallery Arai, Shizuoka Labyrinth-Reliefs Exhibition, Foundation Espace Ecreul Detail from Floating Garden-City-Net Asia, Seoul Museum of Art






    Our next exhibition is Return to the Sea: Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto. Here are some important dates to remember for this show:

    May 17 – 24: Motoi is creating his installation –  we are open to the public – come by and visit!

    May 24, 5-7pm: opening reception for Return to the Sea

    Saturday, May 26, 5:00pm:

     Interview with CBS Sunday Morning’s Martha Teichener for Spoleto Festival’s Conversations With… series

    Simons Center Recital Hall, 54 St. Philip Street

    May 25 – July 7: exhibition dates, we are open from 11am to 4pm Monday through Saturday with extended hours until 7pm on Thursdays.

    Saturday, July 7, 4:00pm: Public dismantling of the installation. One and all are invited to join us for this integral part of Motoi’s work. We’ll gather salt from the installation, essentially destroying it, and go to the Aquarium Wharf as a group to return the salt to the sea.

     j104589_1263633924 sea






    We’ve produced a 170-page catalogue chronicling the past 12 years of Motoi’s saltworks and Emmy award-winning filmmaker, John Reynolds has produced a mini-doc about Motoi’s process and the connection between Japanese culture and salt.

    FREE guided tours of the exhibition are available by contacting

    Lizz Biswell: or 953-4422


     Floating GardenForest of This World-To the White Forest Exhibition, Hakone Open-Air Museum, Kanagawa, Japan Detail from Labyrinth-Grosse Bleichen 34, Hamburg, Germany







    The centerpiece of the exhibition will be a site-specific installation created entirely out of salt by the artist during his ten day residency at the Halsey Institute. Curated by Mark Sloan, director and senior curator of the Halsey Institute, the exhibition will also feature a series of recent drawings, photography, sketchbooks, a video about the artist, and a catalogue.

    Motoi Yamamoto is known for working with salt, often in the form of temporary, intricate, large-scale installations. Salt, a traditional symbol for purification and mourning in Japanese culture is used in funeral rituals and by sumo wrestlers before matches. It is frequently placed in small piles at the entrance to restaurants and other businesses to ward off evil spirits and to attract benevolent ones. Motoi forged a connection to the element while mourning the death of his sister, at the age of twenty-four, from brain cancer and began to create art out of salt in an effort to preserve his memories of her. His art radiates an intense beauty and tranquility, but also conveys something ineffable, painful, and endless.

    Motoi views his installations as exercises that are at once futile, yet necessary to his healing. An important aspect of the installation is the dismantling of his work at the end of the show and delivering the salt back to water, usually in collaboration with the public; hence, the title Return to the Sea. During gallery hours, 11am to 4pm, on the last day of the exhibition, Saturday, July 7, the public can visit the installation and gather a small amount of the salt. Motoi recognizes that salt is a vital part of many living things and that this mineral could conceivably enter and leave multiple organisms throughout the planet over the span of time. According to curator Sloan, “each grain of salt contains its own history and trajectory. Something so seemingly common becomes a metaphor for the evanescence and transience of human life”.


    Yamamoto creating one of the LabyrinthsFloating Garden








    Motoi Yamamoto is an internationally renowned artist who calls his native Japan home. He was born in Onomichi, Hiroshima in 1966 and received his BA from Kanazawa College of Art in 1995. He has exhibited his award-winning creations around the globe in such cities as Athens, Cologne, Jerusalem, Mexico City, Seoul, Tokyo, and Toulouse. He was awarded the Philip Morris Art Award in 2002 as well as the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant in 2003. Although he participated in a group exhibition that same year at New York’s P.S. 1, his work has yet to be widely seen in the United States.

    Motoi says, “Drawing a labyrinth with salt is like following a trace of my memory. Memories seem to change and vanish as time goes by; however, what I seek is to capture a frozen moment that cannot be attained through pictures or writings. What I look for at the end of the act of drawing could be a feeling of touching a precious memory.”

    Motoi Yamamoto has had very little exposure in the United States with the exception of his participation in the Halsey Institute’s group exhibition Force of Nature in 2006 and a group show at P.S. 1 in New York City in 2003. For Return to the Sea, Yamamoto will travel to each venue on the exhibition tour to create a site-specific salt installation in tandem with the drawings, photography, sketchbooks, video, and catalogue. The Halsey Institute’s goal is to introduce the work of this artist to a much broader audience, create a lasting document in the expansive catalogue, and provide an indelible vision of the artist’s unique process through the video.










    Motoi and the Halsey are collaborating with the Clemson Architecture Center in Charleston’s (CAC.C) Studio V Design and Build class to create two viewing platforms for the installation. This will be the fifth collaboration between the Halsey Institute and CAC.C’s Studio V class. The students, led by Ray Huff and David Pastre, will design and build a large platform in the Halsey’s main gallery to provide visitors with multiple vantage points of the large saltwork. The students will also build an outdoor viewing platform for the gallery window fronting Calhoun Street, providing curious passers-by with a glimpse of the installation 24 hours per day.  These platforms will be in use during the run of the exhibition and also for Yamamoto’s residency, May 17- 24.

    Studio V will be keeping a blog of their process and the public can follow their progress by visiting their blog:


    Sakura (Cherry Blossoms), Funa-asobi, IshikawaLabyrinth- Force of Nature Exhibition, Sumter Gallery of ArtFountain of Remembrance- Veracruz, Mexico








    CBS News journalist Martha Teichner will interview Motoi as a part of Spoleto Festival USA’s Conversations With series.  This free event will take place in the in the Recital Hall of the Simons Center for the Arts, 54 St. Philip Street, at 5:00pm on Saturday, May 26th.  There will also be free audio tours, free guided exhibition tours and the opportunity for the public to participate in the ceremonial dismantling of the saltwork at 4pm on the final day of the exhibition, Saturday, July 7. The Halsey Institute will also produce a free gallery guide that outlines the basic concepts behind Yamamoto’s unique work along with a brief curatorial statement by Sloan and a biography of the artist.

    The catalogue includes essays by Sloan and Mark Kurlansky, author of the New York Times best seller, Salt: A World History. The video will include interviews with Yamamoto at his studio in Kanazawa, Japan, insight into his creative process, still images and time-lapse videos of many of his previous installations, and an overview of the fascinating history of salt in Japanese culture.

    This project has received support from the Asian Cultural Council, the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.


    This will be a very exciting and interactive exhibition – I hope you can join us for the events and excitement!


    Self-portraits and self-reflections | Fri. Apr. 20, 2012

    One of the striking subject matter choices in the exhibition has been, for me, the self-portraits. Self-portraits are engaging at first glance because, many times, the artist is breaking the fourth wall and looking out to the canvas at the viewer. We have a number of these expressive and engaging self-portraits. Some self-portraits are simple, straight-forward representations, some are an idealizations and some are probing the inner psyche of the artist.

    christina rodino 4kevin mclean 3kyle branch 1






    megan leger 2saBrina Jeffcoatsam erler 1






    The works are, from left to right: (top) Christina Rodino, Kevin McLean, Kyle Branch and (bottom) Megan Leger, SaBrina Jeffcoat and Sam Erler.

    We can read the mood or inner thoughts of the artist through the visual language communicated in the lighting, the brush strokes and, especially, the facial expressions of the artist. Sometimes, objects are incorporated to assist in conveying a sentiment.


    christina rodino 2The first artist, Christina Rodino, piece is eye-catching as she has placed herself in a grand, regal gown, surrounded by adoring wildlife, in the kind of background one would find in an Flemish portrait. Her expression is stoic, seemingly unfazed by the fact that she is holding a fawn and being crowned by blue birds. The color palette provides a lush feel. In her artist statement, Christina notes that while presenting herself as a princess, she feels far from it. If one knows her, you would be able to tell that this self-portrait is meant as a joke – she is lightheartedly poking fun at herself. Christinady says, “I try to laugh at my work, and in turn, make people smile.”


    kevin mclean 2The next artist, Kevin McLean, has a decidedly more serious take. This is a very dynamic self-portrait, there is a very active energy conveyed through the positioning of his body, the facial expression and the brushstrokes. Kevin chose to crop the image at waist height while still occupying most of the canvas with the subject. The canvas can barely contain him. He is in a lively, forwardly positioned stance as if the viewer has caught him mid-stride on a fast paced walk.

    kevin mclean handsHis hands are holding his backpack straps in a very confident manner, reminiscent of one stretching out suspenders while bragging. When viewed a bit closer, we can see a slight smirk on Kevin’s face as he makes unfaltering eye contact with the viewer. Both the stance and expression exude self-assurance – he’s got somewhere to be and he knows exactly what to do when he gets there. There is a highly energized paint application at play here as well. You can see in this detail that Kevin used a palette knife to apply thick, densely placed pigment to create a highly textured and almost quivering form.


    kyle branch 2 Kyle Branch’s self-portrait is a wonderful demonstration of skill and technique, incidentally this piece was awarded the President’s Choice prize for Painting. The shadowing and highlighting of the face and neck do a wonderful job of conveying a sense of shape and three dimensions. Interestingly enough, in his artist statement, Kyle says, “Whether it was due to a lack of models, time crunch before a due date, or just because I figured I knew my face best, I’ve painted myself enough to have far exceeded a level of satisfaction.” Albrecht Dürer may be best known for his etchings and engravings, but he also has a large body of self-portraits. He made many self-portraits over his career, seemingly fascinated by his most easily accessible model, himself.


    megan leger face Artist Megan Leger chose to incorporate aspects of her personality and personal tastes to convey a more personal expression for her self-portrait. In this instance, she is using the exercise as more of an expression versus an exploration. The playful nature represented in the image is confirmed in her statement. Megan says, “We were asked to create a self-portrait by using our features and playing with them. I thought it would be funny to mainly make my nose enlarged. Once I began shading the background, a giant baby head seemed to appear from the shadows. With the addition of the top hat, my favourite book and movie came to life. My portrait brings out the inspiration of Alice in Wonderland.”


    sabrina jeffcoat 2 SaBrina Jeffcoat melded old photographs with her memories into an idealized past. Here, to create added interest, she’s added in a bright, eye-catching hue and attached three dimensional objects to the canvas. She blends past and present, 2-D and 3-D materials and representational and fantastical elements into one piece. In her statement, SaBrina says, “I combined two photos to create the piece. The little girl is me at around the age of three. The original picture shows me sitting on a couch that was in my parent’s first apartment. I chose this picture of myself because of the playful and mischievous expression on my face. Also, the pose that I am in reminded me of one that might be seen in a Renaissance period piece. Saying this, I thought a regal throne would be fitting to use. I really enjoyed trying to replicate the details of the throne and am excited about the end result!”


    sam erler 3

    Our last artist, Sam Erler, conveys through his artist statement that the work was a technical exercise. I was immediately drawn to disceting his facial expression. I saw a poised, assured pose that might normally be associated with that cool guy in your class that knows he cool. Contrary to his feelings of awkwardly posing, I sense an easy confidence.  He says, “The assignment was to produce a photorealistic self-portrait based on a picture taken by our professor’s camera on a timer and tripod. Personally, I’m much more keen on painting from observation. Some of the students posed for their pictures, but I just sort of awkwardly stood there while the camera flashed ten times. Most of the image is a lot flatter than the photo, I made some changes or ignored the details, but I would say I did learn the value of this technique. I can see why so many artists paint from photos.”

    p1060084While his color choices for the skin tone are interesting and descriptive, it is very hard to disconnect from his eyes. They are highlighted so perfectly that they seem to connect with the viewer and beg to be read. Through the visual noise of the background and skin tone, they are a magnetic focal point. Although the skin tone seem slightly alien, the eyes reflect the humanness of the subject – you feel that he is real. The image vibrates with energy from short brushstrokes like Kevin McLean’s, but there is a stillness that happens in the eyes. My tour guides and I must have talked about this self-portrait for 10 minutes.



    Although all of these works share a similar subject matter, the artist, they have very different treatments. Each one has a way of drawing the viewer in for a closer look .. or a second look. They all bring up the same question though, when is a self-portrait no longer a simple technical exercise in factual representation and more of a reflection of the society in which the artist exists? Cyndi Sherman used herself as a model for almost every image she made, but were they self-portraits merely because she herself was in them?

    cindy sherman 1  cindy sherman 2  cindy sherman 3 cindy-sherman





    Dali’s Dreams and The Exquisite Corpse | Mon. Apr. 16, 2012

    The HICA Library has some amazing books about the ‘uncanny,’ Freud’s word to describe something familiar and foreign at the same time that causes an uncomfortable reaction. The Surrealist movement, developed from the Dada activities during WWI and led by Andre Breton, played with this idea.Cover One of the Surrealists’ creative games was The Exquisite Corpse, a collaborative artmaking endeavor where a composition is formed in sequence with portions hidden from the artist. This artform has thrived since its creation in the early 1900’s. The evolution of this unusual art form is covered in “The Return of the Cadavre Exquis,” a pamphlet published by The Drawing Center in 1993. (Click to enlarge images)

    DefinitionThe front pages of this pamphlet includes the original collage that accompanied the 1938 declaration of Surrealism (left).Exquisite The evolution of this art game since its invention is traced throughout the publication. Check out these collages side-by-side, one from 1935 and the other from 1993!


    ShermanOne of the most adventurous photographers of the past forty years, and someone who has taken Surrealism’s aesthetic into the new century, is Cindy Sherman. She was part of this Exquisite Corpse with Julie Ault and Marc Tauss in 1992. 


    The book serves as a who’s-who of Surrealism, displaying the Exquisite Corpse drawings of the parlors across Europe, and artists’ individual styles definitely shine through. 


    Salvador Dali, that moustachioed wonder who was Surrealism’s poster boy, had an incredible installation at the 1939 World’s Fair and we have a fantastic book about it. dali2-x“Salvador Dali’s Dreams of Venus: The Surrealist Funhouse from the 1939 World’s Fair” by Ingrid Schaffner, published by Princeton Architectural Press in 2002, unpacks this strange and fantastical world with gorgeous full-page pictures and enlightening essays. 


     Come check out Dali’s Surrealist creations – and why not try a game of Exquisite Corpse with other artists? You never know what you might create!

     Sarah Bandy, Media Specialist






    tea sets & bag lunches | Thu. Apr. 5, 2012

    Some of the student works in Young Contemporaries effectively create counterintuitive reactions that are founded in our own familiarities. The artworks exude material irony – challenging our understanding of the world. The subject matter of the pieces have been represented by media with which they aren’t normally associated. 

    oppenheimThis calls to mind a famous predecessor in contemporary art, Méret Oppenheim’s Object. A teacup, saucer and spoon that would normally be used for an afternoon break were completely lined with fur, creating an instant mental recoil based on the perceived texture the fur will have as we lift the cup to our lips to sip. Alan Foljambe said, “The familiarity of the teacup form is crucial to this process, as it brings the fur into a domestic mental sphere where its incongruity is highlighted. Had both the form and the material been exotic, the object would have been merely unfamiliar rather than ‘uncanny’, a word which Freud used to indicate ‘the estrangement of the familiar.’ In order to create the uncanny and draw down the marvelous, it is necessary to wed the bizarre and exotic to the most mundane and everyday objects. This is how the marvelous is granted access to the ordinary: the mind’s mundane morning is shattered when the teacup grows fur.” *

    We recognize the familiar objects as being a bed, a lunch, a paintbrush and a child’s tea set, but there is something out of the ordinary about their presentation that requires a second look. We know how it feels to sip from a tea cup, we know how soft beds are, we know that bagged lunches mean a welcome pause in the school day, we know that paintbrushes are lightweight with soft bristles to bend and spread paint on a surface and we know that a child’s tea set might mean uncomfortably bent knees, but the heartwarming experience is worth it.

    These objects can challenge our preconceived notions of the world and even our own memories.


    p1060058steel slumberSteel Slumber by Kari McCormack is a bed that by no means looks inviting to sit on. The pillow and comforter are made of hard, shiny plates of steel sewn together by thick twine. The twine is snarly and seemingly unkempt – twisting away from the bed like dried vines. Even the mesh screen that binds the comforter gives the viewer and uncomfortable, visceral reaction. Imagine trying to fall asleep while being poked, scratched and cold. The silver steel plates might resemble a quilt, but we know without even running our fingers over the surface that no squares of fabric were harmed in its creation.

    Bag Lunch 1bag lunch 2  Bag Lunch by John Jamison instills a similarly disconcerting feeling. Bag lunches have a nostalgic feel for most people, recalling grade school lunch breaks with PB & Js, carrot sticks and a note from mom. This bag lunch consists of an apple core and a single slice of noticeably moldy bread contained in a paper bag that looks as if it was pulled from the trash instead of from a kitchen drawer. You feel as though you’ve gotten the short end of the carrot stick with this lunch. Even if you wanted an apple, there is none left, the bread is liable to make you sick and even if you did dare to eat your lunch, how can you sure the bag it came in isn’t as dirty as a trash bin?


    Paintbrush by Alyson Burns appears at first glace like a reasonable representation of a familiar object that almost everyone has handled at one point in time. A paintbrush it light to hold, but the gobs of paint it can soak up seemingly double the weight. When it is clean, the bristles are soft and pliable as your fingers run over them. This brush has jagged, pointed screws for bristles and the body is made of thick chunks of metal welded together. It doesn’t seem able to paint a surface, only mar it.


    pointed tea party 1pointed tea party 2Pointed Tea Party by Chelsea Pratt is, at a distance, appealing because of its sweet, child-sized scale, golden finish and the bright bouquet on the table. The two chairs are pulled out at an inviting angle, the table set for two, waiting for a pair of friends to enjoy a good conversation by the window. For me, the set up recalls childhood memories of playing “house” and forcing your brother or dad to drink tea with you and your teddy bear. As you get closer, part of the glitter of the gold surface is the tip of hundreds of up turned tacks. Every surface is unusable, the chairs are painful, the cups would poke your lips and there is no way you’d rest an elbow on the table. There will be no listless relaxation at this café.


    These works shouldn’t be seen as merely making light of the object they represents and the notions to which those objects are tied. Far from desiring to push the viewer into an uncomfortable zone, I’d like to put forth that these objects should challenge us in a more general way. If these normally comforting objects aren’t as lovely as we feel they should be, does this mean that objects and ideas that are ordinarily disgusting or unsettling can be beautiful and engaging?



    * This quote is from Alan Foljambe’s article “Meret Oppenheim and Breakfast in Fur – Surrealism for Breakfast” in’s Modern Art History blog from April 30, 2010. Read the whole article here:


    Salon des Refusés in the Halsey Library | Sat. Mar. 31, 2012

    Everyone knows that genius isn’t recognized right away, or even in an artist’s lifetime. Caravaggio ran from the law for the last half of his life, Galileo was put under house arrest, and Van Gogh died in poverty.  

    While challenging the norm is the only way to inspire social change and push art forward, it’s natural for us to resist and question new ideas. To wit, the Academy denied the works of some masterful artists who ended up in the original Salon des Refuses in 1863 – and the Halsey Library has some amazing books about them!


    James Abbot McNeill Whistler’s Symphony in White No. 1: The White Girl was refused from the Academy. This small cloth-covered book by T. Martin Wood is a relic from 1902 – its deckled pages hold information about Whistler’s social group, his inspirations, and this poem by Rosetti about the very piece that was dismissed by the Academy and joined the Salon des Refusés. 


    Édouard Manet, a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism, also had his work rejected. His controversial landmark piece Déjeuner sur l’herbe got to the heart of social problems in France at the time and shocked the Academy and his fellow artists.

    This lovely paper-bound book, published by Wildenstein and Co. in 1948, unpacks the life and work of Manet and sheds light on his personality. He wanted so badly to be honored by the Academy – but he did much more to change art history than anyone who was accepted!

    The great painter Cezanne was also excluded from the Paris Academy, his work rejected every year from 1864-1869. But Cézanne is credited with inspiring the Cubist movement – both  Matisse and Picasso said that Cézanne “is the father of us all.” His repetitive square brush strokes and ability to disassemble images into color swatches made the Academy uncomfortable, but without his vision, we would have no Cubism and modern art wouldn’t exist in the way we know it today!


    So here’s a reminder – ask questions, express yourself, and don’t worry about what the Academy says.

    Visit the Halsey Library to see these and many other incredible books!

    Sarah Bandy, Media Specialist

    Young Contemporaries & the Salon des Refusés | Tue. Mar. 27, 2012

    The current exhibition is our annual juried student exhibition, Young Contemporaries. Here at the Halsey, we mainly focus on professional artists of national and international stature with a special focus on those that are on the outskirts of fame. We like to highlight under-recognized artists that deserve a darn good look.

    Young Contemporaries is a great way to highlight some of the emerging talent at the College .. the next generation of art stars. This year was the biggest yet! We had 577 submissions for juror and painter Julie Heffernan to go through. In less than 48 hours, she picked what she felt were the strongest examples of contemporary painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, photograph and video works our student population had to offer. This, of course, means having to make some hard decisions – a lot of technically impressive pieces had to be released.

    In the end, only 70 out of the 577 submissions were accepted. If you don’t want to do the math in your head, that’s only 12% – quite an achievement for those that made it into the show.

    Then, it was time for the Studio Art Department to choose pieces for the accompanying exhibition, the Salon des Refusés. This exhibition is rooted in a famous exhibition in Paris in the early part of 1863. The Paris Salon juried artwork every year for an official exhibition. As early as the 1830s, Paris art galleries had mounted small-scale, private exhibitions of works rejected by the Salon jurors. Apparently in the 1863 iteration of the exhibition, an unusually high number of works and the artists began to riot. Many of them had been accepted to previous exhibitions and felt there was an unfair and oppressive theme required to be accepted. The Salon opposed the shift away from traditional painting styles. The artists caused such a stir that Emporer Napoléon III granted them their own exhibition, the Salon des Refusés. We chose to begin our own take on this famous exhibition by creating an exhibition from the “refused” works in the submissions. The student-run Visual Arts Club has taken this a step further and has curated an exhibition from the works that weren’t chosen for either of these two exhibitions, the Salon des Refusés des Refusés.

    This year, in total, 116 of the 577 works submitted for consideration were selected to exhibit in one of the three shows.

    Young Contemporaries will open on Thursday, March 29th at 5pm and runs through April 28th. Don’t forget that your group can take a guided tour of the exhibition – all you have to do it ask!


    Hope to see you soon —



    Aggie Zed: Keeper’s Keep | Mon. Mar. 12, 2012

    This exhibition comprises sculpture, installation, paintings, drawings, and sketchbooks that chart Aggie Zed’s unique working methods in a variety of media. Born in Charleston and raised among farm animals on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, Zed graduated from the University of South Carolina with a BFA in painting and sculpture. Shortly thereafter, she moved to Richmond and, later, Gordonsville, Virginia, where she lives and works today.

    Zed’s studio practice is eclectic and varied. Often starting with images from her sketchbook, she may develop some of these concepts into paintings and others into sculptural tableaux or installations. Her subject matter is nothing less than the sum of human civilization, with an emphasis on our relationship to the animal kingdom. Human and animal figures collide with furniture or landscapes; rabbits sprout wheels or wings, while horses drown in collapsing scaffolding. Zed’s dreamscape narratives probe the inner reaches of the subconscious mind.

    Although Zed’s work derives much of its meaning from literary associations, her imagery teems with invention and startling leaps of imagination. Her visual poetry conjures a world in which logic and rationality take a comfortable backseat. Human foibles and impulses are placed in the foreground. And even though she works in different media, her conceptual approach remains consistent throughout.

    The paintings are rendered in mixed media on paper. They depict humans and/or animals, often located within a domestic space or farmyard. There may be references to dinosaurs seen from the windows or other anachronistic details. Mirrors, doorways, and framed artwork on the walls become portals to other realms. Animals play the role of participant observers to the human drama. They are depicted variously as companions, sages, sources of amusement, means of transportation, and foils to daily tasks.

    The sculptural and installation works are complex tableaux that illuminate aspects of the human saga. Sculptural works that the artist calls “scrap floats” appear as if in some sort of cosmic procession, enacting scenes that are at once strange yet familiar. The collision of disparate materials and elements in these works mirrors the beauty and fragility of the human condition.

    Derived from the title of one of the artist’s works, Keeper’s Keep alludes to British usage of the term “keeper” for “curator,” and plays on the double meaning of “keep” as both noun and verb. Aggie Zed is a storyteller whose works take us out of our consensual reality and into a world filled with absurdity, ambiguity, and the gifts of artistic imagination. 

    Mark Sloan

    Community Partners 2017