Carew Rice exhibit opens at Verdier House

A Beaufort family’s private collection of silhouettes of southern life and lands by early 20th century Lowcountry artist Carew Rice will open at the Verdier House, 801 Bay Street, Saturday, February 2 and run through the end of May. Historic Beaufort Foundation is the exclusive venue for this personal collection which has never been shown in its entirety.

Rice’s uncommon hand-crafted work captures the Lowcountry world in black and white and provides a matchless glimpse of South Carolina culture in the first half of the 20th century. Created from his youth after the turn of the 19th century until his death in 1971, his work is sought by collectors worldwide. While he worked and traveled throughout the south with occasional trips to Europe, he lived primarily at Brick House Plantation deep in the ACE Basin near Green Pond between Charleston and Beaufort.

Most of his work is dedicated to Lowcountry scenes and it places him squarely in the era of the simultaneous Charleston Renaissance, a dynamic period, 1920-1945, of modern Southern artistic and literary history.

Rice’s bold style of silhouette cutting was previously unseen within his medium. Through his refined technique and almost limitless range of subjects, Rice claimed his place as “America’s greatest silhouettist,” according to the poet Carl Sandburg, one of his subjects.

In addition to featuring Rice’s work and a display of his scissors and family memorabilia, the exhibit will include a program and cutting demonstration by Clay Rice, Carew’s grandson, who inherited the artistry of his grandfather. The date of the event featuring Clay Rice will be announced later. He performs songs and storytelling in addition to his cutting demonstrations.

In his 1961 book, “A Selection of Songs & Scissor-Cut Silhouettes: Low Country Artistry by Carew Rice,” Rice wrote about his realization that a small pair of scissors purchased for 25 cents led him to “cut out a billygoat and a jaybird.” He immediately knew he “had found the thing I had been seeking to find: a way to clearly and definitely, and most of all, quickly, express my ideas in art.”

Sponsored by Derek Gilbert Law Firm, Regions Bank and the SC Humanities Council, the exhibit will be open for viewing at the Verdier House, Mondays-Saturdays, Feb. 2 – May 31. Admission is free for HBF members and children and $10 per non-member. Call Isabella Reeves at 843-379-3331 for information.

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