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Halsey Director Retiring After 26 Years at the Helm

Thu Dec 10, 2020
The College Today

Some might wonder why colleges and universities have art museums and may even question the value of the museum to the institution. Mark Sloan, director and chief curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston, has dedicated the last 26 years to answering that question. During his tenure, the Halsey Institute has been transformed from a small, sleepy gallery to a vibrant space with engaging, imaginative shows that drew visitors both near and far and introduced the community to innovative contemporary art.

“All the liberal arts disciplines come together in one place at the Halsey Institute; the humanities, arts and sciences are presented in conjunction with educational programming that includes discussions, film screenings, lectures, conferences and panels,” says Sloan, who is retiring at the end of the month. “People from across campus and all over the world are involved in Halsey programming.”


Mark Sloan was tired of the stereotypes, of how people thought of southerners as slow-talking, slow-thinking bumpkins.

So he set out to change those perceptions.

The result of his efforts is the photo exhibit “Southbound: Photographs of and about the New South,” now showing at the LSU Museum of Art.

Sloan, director of the Halsey Institute of the College of Charleston, and the institute’s curator-at-large Mark Long began working on the project six years ago.

What started with a search for images developed in one of the most comprehensive projects about the American South ever assembled.


What inspires a writer, a musician or a dancer? Some seek inspiration in nature. Others are inspired by places and people. This semester, English, dance and music students were tasked with seeking inspiration from the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art’s exhibition Dis/placements: Revisitations of Home, a virtual exhibition featuring 10 artists whose work deals with issues of displacement from their homeland.

Halsey associate director Lizz Biswell ’08 says the staff wanted the Dis/placements exhibition to function as a multifaceted digital humanities project. Each artist, whose work had previously been shown at the Halsey, was paired with a writer from the community who offered their response to the concept of home. Biswell and her team took the collaboration a step further by engaging students to create art based on the exhibition.


Now more than ever, the pandemic turns our thoughts and hearts homeward. Whether confronting the isolation of being closed in, or, at other times, the pain of being shut out, our current paradigm hits home for everyone.

With that in mind, the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art this fall rolled out “Dis/placements: Revisitations of Home,” a project that takes place over the remaining months of 2020 that sheds vital new light on the universal subject.

The project features 10 artists drawn from previous partnerships with the Halsey and whose works grapple with issues of displacement from their ancestral homeland. Each presents works that speak to their own reminiscences of home.


Mark Sloan retiring as Halsey Institute director

Fri Oct 09, 2020
Charleston City Paper

Mark Sloan, director and chief curator of the Halsey Institute for Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston, announced today that he is retiring at the end of the year.

“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,” he said in a statement Friday.

Sloan has been a museum curator for 37 years, receiving his current position as director and head curator at the Halsey in 1994. According to his statement announcing his retirement, 245 shows have been hosted at the Halsey under Sloan’s leadership. In 2012, the state gave Sloan and the Halsey the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts for its art initiative throughout the state.


Mark Sloan, director and chief curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, announced Friday he will leave his post at the end of the year.

Sloan has run the Halsey for 26 years, bolstering his reputation for mounting exhibitions of works by many lesser-known as well as several very well-known artists.

He worked his path in a relatively conservative arts environment, often thrilling patrons with imaginative and provocative shows, most of which included an array of ancillary programming such as artist talks, gallery tours, documentary films and impressive catalogs made in collaboration with local designer Gil Shuler.

The Halsey, named for Charleston native William Halsey, a respected modernist painter and sculptor who died in 1999, is part of the College of Charleston. It was located in a small front corner of the Simons Center on St. Philip Street when Sloan arrived in 1994.


Arts are out in full-force virtually and in person

Sat Aug 22, 2020
Post & Courier

This fall, the arts and culture scene in Charleston may emerge in a different form than it has in the past, but it still promises ample inspiration. If artists and practitioners have demonstrated anything of late, it is their ability to remain creative and responsive to the times, shifting platforms, forging new content and connecting in whatever manner possible to uplift and entertain us all.

With its standing track record of video art installations, documentaries and film screenings, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston continues to deliver resonant, relevant content to the campus and the community. At the same time, Redux Contemporary Art Center highlights emerging and established artists from Charleston and beyond.


Ten different artists will share their ideas of “home” during an online exhibition this fall presented by College of Charleston’s Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art. In the midst of an international pandemic, Dis/placements: Revisitations of Home, opens Aug. 28.

Dis/placements is presented through the artists’ submissions on what the concept of “home” means to them. All of the exhibiting artists are former Halsey Institute artists. One is Jiha Moon, who presented a traveling solo show at the Halsey in 2015. Moon’s artistic mediums — painting and ceramics — often overlap. “Painting for me is very organic [with] a lot of different techniques, lines and brushstrokes. They can go on any type of surface,” Moon explained. “When it goes on ceramic surfaces and people call it surface decoration, it kind of devalues the work. My idea is when I use different surfaces it kind of changes the identity or the way it’s viewed as a medium but has the same act whether you’re painting on paper or canvas with oil.


Meet The Wild, Weird, & Wonderful Mr. Sloan

Sat Aug 01, 2020
Charleston Magazine

For the past quarter-century, the Halsey director and chief curator has taken chances, championing the odd and overlooked, and in doing so, transformed a small college gallery into an internationally known hub of contemporary art.

It’s hard to forget the Soundsuits. The surreal, oddly gorgeous costumes by Chicago artist Nick Cave took Charleston by storm, and by surprise, in 2010, delivering a head-scratching wow—part haute couture fashion show, part mishmash of elaborate crochet meets African tribal artistry meets some kind of avant-garde furry garb from the Star Wars bar scene.

The exhibit, “Call and Response: Africa to America/The Art of Nick Cave and Phyllis Galembo,” was a cross-cultural celebration of mystical wonder, and a timeless show, it turns out, as resonant today as it was a decade ago. Cave, a former Alvin Ailey dancer, created his wearable, almost shamanic sculptures as a means of masking identity to protect against violence and prejudice—his response to the racially charged 1991 killing of Rodney King in Los Angeles. But even if you missed the subtext, you couldn’t miss the stunning visual impact.


Colin Quashie’s 80-by-63-inch canvas called “Strom’s Song: Looked Away, Looked Away, Looked Away Dixieland” shows the face of Strom Thurmond superimposed over an image of the Confederate flag and two Black men hanging from ropes. Assembled below are certain prominent people of South Carolina, including one Black man, who supported flying of the flag atop the state Capitol.

When the painting was included in a 1994 show arranged by the S.C. Arts Commission and hosted by the College of Charleston’s Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, it nearly cost Halsey Director Mark Sloan his job.

A sitting legislator was on campus for a meeting, learned of the painting, which included him among the figures depicted, and demanded that then-President Alex Sanders fire the person responsible, according to Sloan. This was slander and insubordination, the legislator argued. (Sanders has said he can neither recall the details of the incident nor dispute Sloan’s account.)



Free For All
GALLERY HOURS (during exhibitions)
Monday - Saturday, 11am – 4pm
Open Thursdays until 7pm

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