The poet, being an imitator like a painter or any other artist, must of necessity imitate one of three objects – things as they were or are, things as they are said or thought to be, or things as they ought to be. The vehicle of expression is language – either current terms or, it may be, rare words or metaphors.
I’d like to think the Aristotle quote above might also refer to what visual artists do, in presenting ideas in a form that often transcends language. We are very excited to introduce this fall’s line up, one full of metaphors, insights, and imagined futures.
Our first fall offering presents the work of Marc Trujillo and Riccarda de Eccher, each of whom are painters of sublime landscapes. In Trujillo’s case, he turns his considerable observation skills to depicting the new landscapes that surround us, very much in the manner of Fredric Church or J.M.W. Turner. Yet, instead of rolling hills and roiling clouds, Trujillo makes exquisite paintings of fast food restaurants at sunset, or the banal interiors of Costco’s or airport baggage claim areas. In de Eccher’s case, her subjects are the Dolomites, a mountain range in the north of Italy, the place of her birth. Her fascination with mountains has been lifelong, as she at one time climbed Mt. Everest. Her obsessive water color paintings evince a heartfelt respect and deep mystery.
We are especially thrilled to be partnering with the South Carolina Aquarium for the Sea Change initiative in October, as out exhibition aligns perfectly with their yearlong focus on plastics in the world’s oceans. Halsey visiting artists Chris Jordan and Aurora Robson are among the most prominent artists working at the intersection of art and ecology today, and we look forward to sharing their extraordinary works with you. The Sea Change project will have a considerable education component, both on our campus, and throughout the city of Charleston. We are excited to be partnering with the educators and scientists at the SC Aquarium and the College of Charleston on this important global challenge.
On the staffing front, we are welcoming back our former curator of education and public programs, Lizz Biswell, who left in the fall of 2015 to pursue her Master’s degree in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. Now that she has completed her studies (with distinction!), she is rejoining us to ramp up our community engagement and public programming efforts. Her new role is much expanded, so we look forward to further developing our model museum education program.
See you ‘round the galleries,
Director and Chief Curator
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 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. 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 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award with special recognition to director Mark Sloan. This is the highest honor the state gives in the arts.
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 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, and Redux Contemporary Art Center among others to produce special programs in conjunction with our exhibitions and events.
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? Better yet – make it Circus-themed! Wouldn’t you like to see your own work in our machine? Visit artomat.org.
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 Lizz Biswell at BiswellL@cofc.edu or call (843) 953 5957.
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.
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.
Because of the tremendous volume of unsolicited materials sent to us in the past, and due to the small size of our staff, the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art no longer accepts unsolicited materials (slides, prints, CDs, DVDs, etc.) from artists or their agents. The Institute does not set up appointments with artists to review their work at their request. If unsolicited materials are sent to the Institute without the artist or agent’s prior knowledge of Institute policy, the museum is not obligated to return materials that have been submitted without a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Under no circumstances may artists send or drop off original works.