Dear Halsey Institute members and friends,
Like many of you, I have spent this past summer reflecting. My reflections have focused on the decades of programming produced by our organization, and our focus on emerging, mid-career, and oddly-overlooked artists and voices in contemporary art. I have been with the Halsey Institute since 1994, having moved to Charleston from upstate New York, where I had been for five years, and prior to that almost four years in San Francisco and a short stint in Charlotte, NC. I have been a museum curator/director for thirty-seven years, twenty-six of which have been spent in Charleston. I am very proud of the work we have all done together—members, friends, artists, community partners, donors, staff, advisory board members, and faculty colleagues at the College of Charleston. The four words “It takes a village” come to mind. Being the director and chief curator at the Halsey has propelled me into some of the most rewarding and amazing life experiences I have had. In the 245 shows that happened during my Halsey Institute tenure, I’ll never forget the privilege of working with artists like Aldwyth, Butch Anthony, Nick Cave, Sonya Clark, Tiebena Dagnogo, Riccarda de Eccher, Eames Demetrios, Lesley Dill, Shepard Fairey, Coulter Fussell, William Halsey and Corrie McCallum, Hitnes, Lonnie Holley, Jasper Johns, Chris Jordan, Jumaadi, Hung Liu, Deborah Luster, Ruth Marten, Jiha Moon, Fahamu Pecou, Quashie, Hamid Rahmanian, Aurora Robson, Brian Rutenberg, Tanja Softić, Renée Stout, The Art Guys, Leslie Wayne, Jennifer Wen Ma, Motoi Yamamoto, Aggie Zed, and a long etcetera. I hope this woefully short (and necessarily incomplete) list at least conjures fond memories of a few of your favorite shows.
Since my arrival, the Halsey Institute has been an “artist-centric” organization, as we have sought to collaborate with artists to create exhibitions, performances, publications, and videos that are driven by the artists’ interests and passions. Though my staff and I are responsible for selecting the artists we present, we consult with many experts outside of the Halsey Institute with particular expertise and are almost always in the role of midwife. We help facilitate artist’s dreams by providing a wonderful museum space, raising a sufficient budget, involving the proper technicians, advisors, or specialists, helping incubate the ideas, and presenting the work professionally, and often traveling the shows. It also helps that we have an enthusiastic audience, hungry for the brand of contemporary art we present, and willing to give generously in support of it. We have also been very fortunate to receive nine grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, one from NASA (!), and funding from a variety of local, national, and international foundations. We also have many very dedicated patrons, without whom we simply would not exist.
The changes that will be brought about in our culture as a result of the COVID-19 virus are only beginning to be felt. At the time of this writing, we have no sense of the scope of the virus, much less how it will impact our lives in the months and years ahead. We will endeavor to navigate these uncharted waters with aplomb, but we will need your support. We are fortunate to have an ace staff in place: Lizz Biswell, our associate director, who started as an intern at the Halsey Institute in 2008(!), is now seasoned leader; Bryan Granger, our director of exhibitions and public programs; and Katie Hirsch, curator and director of strategic partnerships round out the senior leadership team, ably assisted by Kaylee Lass, our operations manager and curatorial associate; professor Mark Long is our curator-at-large and academic liaison to the College of Charleston, helping make the Halsey Institute an extension of every classroom; Andrew King is our preparator; and Sarah Berry is thriving as our education coordinator. In addition to this staff talent, we are fortunate that the Halsey Institute has such a dedicated and resourceful board of advisors, with spoons stirring in many pots within our community. They help make sure folks know that membership in the Halsey Institute is still the most tangible way of showing your ongoing support for adventurous art in Charleston. We want to keep admission free, so that our galleries remain a place where the public can have direct experience with the notion of how an artist turns a thought into a thing.
I would like to thank each of you for being in the Halsey Institute’s orbit. It has been a grand adventure so far, and a privilege to serve as the director for Charleston’s contemporary art museum and to watch the concomitant explosion of contemporary arts programming throughout the region over these last two and-a-half decades. It has been thrilling to be a part of that. My wife and I have forged many wonderful friendships here and feel incredibly grateful to have been so warmly embraced by this community.
I urge you to continue to stay safe, get out and VOTE, and continue your support of the Halsey Institute’s programming and mission.
Housed within the School of the Arts at the College of Charleston, less than a block away from the busiest pedestrian intersection in the state, the Halsey Institute’s public facilities include two interlinked museum quality exhibition spaces totaling 3,200 square feet, a dedicated media room, a reference library, and archive. In our complex, we have proximate access to two theater spaces, a recital hall, lecture hall, and film screening facility that we use for a variety of presentations. Our host institution, the College of Charleston, offers extraordinary academic and administrative resources. We interweave the intellectual capital around us into the fabric of our ongoing programming, working with faculty and international colleagues as guest curators, consultants, or advisors on specific projects.
The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art wishes to acknowledge and honor the Kusso, Etiwan, Cusabo, and Stono people, on whose ancestral homelands and resources the College of Charleston and City of Charleston was built.
The Halsey Institute was originally named the Halsey Gallery for the artist William Halsey, an accomplished Charleston native whose modernist works were exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, to note a few. Halsey was the first individual to teach a studio art course at the College of Charleston beginning in 1964, and he continued to teach here for twenty years. Upon his retirement in 1984, the Studio Art faculty voted to name the art gallery after him to honor his contribution to the arts in Charleston. Mr. Halsey died in 1999.
Halsey’s wife, Corrie McCallum was also an accomplished artist. In addition to her vast body of work, Corrie McCallum made significant contributions to the Charleston art community as an educator. She was the first artist to teach printmaking at the College of Charleston. Under her guidance, the Gibbes Museum of Art conducted the first comprehensive art appreciation program for Charleston County public school students. She held education positions at several institutions, including the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah and the Gibbes Museum of Art, College of Charleston, and Newberry College in South Carolina. Throughout her life, she remained an outspoken advocate for the visual arts. She died in 2009.
Since 1984, the gallery bearing the Halsey name has presented hundreds of exhibitions by regional, national, and international artists. In 2005, the gallery changed its name to the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art to more accurately reflect the range of programming produced. Conceived as a non-collecting contemporary art facility, the Halsey Institute remains a vital cultural resource for the City of Charleston, the State of South Carolina and the region. The Halsey Institute hosts between five and seven exhibitions per year, highlighting adventurous contemporary art by emerging and mid-career artists of national stature. All exhibitions are accompanied by extensive educational programming. In addition, the Halsey Institute has maintained a strong international component over the years, bringing in artists from all over the world for residencies, lectures, and exhibitions. In 2012, the South Carolina Arts Commission presented the Halsey Institute the South Carolina Governor’s Award for the Arts with special recognition to director Mark Sloan. This is the highest honor the state gives in the arts. In 2018, Mayor John Tecklenburg declared March 14 as William Halsey and Corrie McCallum Day in Charleston. View the official proclamation here.
Dear Halsey Institute family,
Black Lives Matter. We write this letter because we believe that silence is violence. While the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery (to cite only the most recent public examples) are the impetus for recent protests and a larger spotlight on anti-Black violence, we must all acknowledge and work to dismantle the systemic racism at the core of our country’s institutions. We believe it is critical that we collectively and proactively facilitate difficult conversations that can help create action for a more equitable future.
While our heartache for the lives impacted by white supremacist systems reflects feelings rather than actions, we will continue to strive to be more proactive, inclusive, and reflexive. In addition to listening, learning, protesting, donating, and advocating as individuals, we are committing our organization to programming that will amplify conversations about systemic racism—and what we as a society can do to dismantle it.
In our new strategic plan, the College of Charleston collectively identifies and affirms our commitment to Core Values that include Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. While our organization has been making strides to ensure equity and inclusion, we are not moving fast enough. We will push harder for change within the Halsey Institute, as well as our institutional host, the College of Charleston. Our ongoing commitment to an anti-racist framework is not only the morally correct thing to do, but also means that the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art will be better fulfilling its mission.
The Halsey Institute is proud to support the work of Black artists and scholars. This work has helped to build the Halsey Institute’s reputation, and we acknowledge how we have benefited from Black creativity. We know the path forward requires us to look inward and strategize ways to diversify our partners, contractors, board, and staff to better reflect the community we’ve built together. We believe that art is a powerful vehicle for social justice and change, and we will continue to listen, learn, grow, and act, as individuals and as an organization. Countless organizations, community leaders, and advocates have been sharing anti-racism resources. To aid in the sharing of those resources, please click here.
In all of this, the Halsey Institute staff remains committed to listening to our community. At the College of Charleston, the impartial channel for reporting discrimination and harassment is the Office of Equal Opportunity and Programs, which can be reached at (843) 953-5754 or firstname.lastname@example.org. We are committed to the work necessary and look forward to the day when we all share in an equitable world.
In sincere appreciation,
Halsey Institute staff
We originate between five and seven exhibitions per year, many of which travel nationally, and host a year-round schedule of lectures, panels, symposia, screenings, discussions, and special events. We also produce video documentaries about the artists and exhibitions that we originate. These videos provide keys to understanding the artist’s creative process and are permanently archived on our comprehensive website. We also produce award-winning publications for many of our exhibitions. These catalogues feature thoughtful commissioned essays that provide a meaningful context for the exhibitions and offer a permanent record of the artist’s project with the Halsey Institute. Our emphasis has long been on providing audiences with privileged access to the creative process itself. We enjoy sharing our belief that there is much that can be learned by seeing how an artist turns “a thought into a thing.” Charleston, South Carolina has a remarkable history as a port city and cultural crossroads. The Halsey Institute is committed to building on and exploring the complex and sometimes troubling history of this place through diverse exhibitions and an international artist-in-residence program. To find out our current and upcoming exhibitions, click here.
About once a year, we host an artist-in-residence for a period of weeks or months. The purpose of the residency is to provide artists with a unique opportunity to produce new work, which will be exhibited at the Halsey Institute. We seek to foster meaningful interactions between our artist-in-residence and the community whenever possible, through public events, lectures, and workshops. We aim to provide further insight into the life of an artist and their creative process. Often, a video is produced, documenting the artist’s time in residence. Past artists-in-residence include Long-Bin Chen, Tiebena Dagnogo, Eames Demetrios, Htein Lin, Rikuo Ueda, and Motoi Yamamoto among others.
The Halsey Institute often partners with other departments on the College of Charleston campus, as well as with local businesses and organizations. These partnerships enrich our exhibitions and extend our footprint outside of the galleries. On campus, we have collaborated with the Addlestone Library, and the Avery Institute, as well as Art History, Arts Management, English, Geology, the Lowcountry Hall of Math and Science, Sociology, and Studio Art. Off campus, we have worked with the City of Charleston, Clemson University Architecture Center, Medical University of South Carolina, NASA, New Music Collective, Pure Theatre, Redux Contemporary Art Center, and the South Carolina Aquarium among others to produce special programs in conjunction with our exhibitions and events.
In The Marion and Wayland H. Cato Jr. Center for the Arts, the Halsey Institute has a much-expanded space on the first floor of this five-story building. The Halsey occupies two interlinked gallery spaces, a dedicated media room, and a library/resource area.
The Halsey Institute is supported by a variety of private and public funders, including: Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Asian Cultural Council, Bishop Family Foundation, City of Charleston ATAX Grant, Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina, Elizabeth Firestone Graham Foundation, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, Furthermore: a program of the J.M. Kaplan Fund, Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation, Graham Foundation, Harpo Foundation, Henry Luce Foundation, Henry and Sylvia Yaschik Foundation, Japan Foundation, Joanna Foundation, South Carolina Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, and NASA.
In addition to grant funding and the funding from the College of Charleston, we sustain our dynamic programming with the encouragement and support of our Members and Community Partners – those who keep the mighty Halsey afloat. The cash and in-kind donations from these individuals, businesses, and organizations afford us the ability to maintain free programming for the community. Members and Community Partners enjoy a variety of stratified perks. Each year, we offer a new set of limited edition prints available exclusively to our Patron members. Artists who have been a part of the Halsey Institute’s programming have specially created these prints for us. Beginning at the Postmodernist level ($350), Members may choose from one of the prints we have available. To find out more about our Membership and Community Partners programs, click here.
Tours are led by experienced guides and can be adapted to follow specific content or course objectives as well as geared towards any age. Our discussion-based tours help students learn how to look closely, think critically, and engage with concepts and ideas related to art and their personal experiences. Through group conversations, students learn about the objects in the exhibition and also gain an understanding of the context for the work and related themes and ideas.
Request a tour by contacting HalseyTours@cofc.edu or call (843) 953-5659.
Each year, the Halsey Institute screens independent films often in conjunction with the exhibition on view. The films’ content varies greatly, but the events always have the same focus, to bring independent film and filmmakers to Charleston for stimulating conversation and to serve as a meeting place for community members, no matter their interests. Discover the value and magic of independent films! To learn more about our films, click here.
The Halsey Institute has a reference library that is open to the public for browsing. Biblioteca contains exhibition catalogues, art history books, artist monographs, rare books and books on uncommon topics. This is a non-lending library that offers a cornucopia of inspiration for those interested in visual culture. Click here to browse the catalog online.
The Art*O*Mat is a repurposed cigarette vending machine converted to sell art. The mission of Artists-in-Cellophane (A.I.C.), the sponsoring organization of Art*O*Mat ®, is to encourage art consumption by combining the worlds of art and commerce in an innovative form. With roughly 400 contributing artists from 10 different countries, A.I.C. has created an opportunity to purchase original artwork while providing exposure and promotional support for the artists. A.I.C.’s belief is that art should be progressive, yet personal and approachable. What better way to do this than with a heavy cold steel machine? Wouldn’t you like to see your own work in our machine?
Photographers from the Halsey Institute often document events. Your photograph might be taken and used by the Halsey Institute in a non-profit, educational, news-related, and/or editorial purposes. Images could appear in print or digital media, and may be posted online.
The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art collaborates with artists to create meaningful exhibitions, installations, and public projects of all sorts. We only have a few slots each year, and our curatorial staff is brimming with ideas for artists they’d like to work with. That said, we are happy to hear from you and see what you’re working on. The Halsey Institute reviews artist submissions twice a year, around January 1 and June 1. We do not have the staff resources to respond to each submission individually. We prefer to review electronic materials at email@example.com; but you may put us on your mailing list to receive invitations, catalogues, etc. The Halsey Institute is not responsible for any physical materials submitted, and they will not be returned. We will be in touch if we have an opportunity for you. No calls please.
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