The day after Toni Scott shared images and media coverage of her work capturing the experience of American slaves, the California-based multi-media artist, worked for more than four hours alongside Anderson University students, encouraging them to create their own tributes to men and women who survived slavery in the U.S.
During the fall semester AU's Vandiver Gallery displayed work from Scott's Bloodlines exhibit, which includes sculptures, paintings and multimedia works about slavery and other experiences of Africans and African-Americans.
On Sept. 18 Scott was the featured guest of the South Carolina School of the Arts presentation that included the performance of West African drumming and a violin-accompanied dance of eight students dressed to clothes to portray nineteenth century slaves. The presentation also featured student readings of slave narratives—firsthand accounts of men and women who survived slavery in the U.S.
Scott was moved by her time at AU. Following her Sept. 18 presentation at AU, she shared on Facebook, "today was among the most blessed of days, truly a dream, it was a testament that humanity lives, love exists, hope abounds and God is alive."
The next day at AU, Scott was invited to make art with students. Art majors as well as other AU students were invited to read slave narratives and build structures that represented where the enslaved man or woman lived.
The students—working alone or in small groups—used twine, black Styrofoam, wire, mesh, and paint to create the objects. The structures could be no taller, wider or longer than 20 inches, Scott said. The structures also had to incorporate the name of the person whose experience inspired the piece, she said.
The student pieces will be on display in a gallery at the Rainey Fine Arts Center during the fall 2013 semester, Department of Art & Design faculty said.
Senior art major Morgan Reynolds, who is earning a concentration in graphic design, appreciated how the project made him reflect about the life of a slave, Martha S. Pickney, who grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, during a dark period in the U.S. that Americans no longer think much about.
"It is important to look back," said Reynolds, "and remember the struggle and injustice."