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Old Gold & Black

Old Gold & Black

OPINION: Men’s Basketball just won’t back down
Abigail Taylor, Contributing writer • February 27, 2024

Lighting Up Spartanburg: Community involvement and the Spartanburg Art Museum

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By: Sheridan Kate Murray, Staff Writer

On Thursday, Sept. 15, 2016, the Spartanburg Art Museum hosted an opening reception for their newest exhibition, entitled (Un)Common Space(s). The group exhibition examined the relationship between natural, constructed and decaying space.

The exhibit intends to challenge viewers to discover such themes as the loss of natural resources, the dynamic between humans and nature and the degradation of urban landscapes. The works on display range from urban landscape paintings on uncommon surfaces to documentary photography, and invite a conversation about the balance between permanence and impermanence.

Mat Duncan, museum curator and community development coordinator, says the exhibition allows viewers to come in close contact with current environmental events.

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“Earth is a complex, delicate network of interconnected systems,” he says. “As we inhabit it, the relationship between the natural environment and human beings becomes more complicated. We are constantly entering into new territory as far as what our relationship with nature is. In this exhibition, we are looking at what happens when mankind abandons artificial spaces and nature reclaims them. We are also looking at how nature survives and adapts to cities and other new kinds of space we have created.”

Executive Director Elizabeth Goddard is confident that the new exhibit will interest a variety of people. “There are many exciting things happening in the community right now in terms of art, and this only adds to the momentum,” she says.

In addition to art exhibitions, SAM provides community involvement programs. This summer, the museum screened a series of three family-friendly art films at the Tap House and encouraged Spartanburg residents to attend. They also hosted a number of educational tours for students, and had family programming wherein families were guided through making artwork together. Throughout the year, the museum conducts programs like Classic Contemporaries, a program offered exclusively for those ages 55 or older.

SAM is also currently launching a new public art program called Lighten Up Spartanburg. The project will focus specifically on the newly declared downtown cultural district, centered on Spartanburg’s transition from a textile hub into a developing creative economy. It will capitalize on Spartanburg’s revitalization and will be held concurrently with the Bloomberg Philanthropies funded project Seeing Spartanburg in a New Light which opens to the public in October of 2016.

The museum plans to capitalize on the “new” Spartanburg by distributing 6-foot fiberglass light bulb sculptures to local artists, designers, and architects. The creators will then paint, sculpt and alter the sculptures however they please. Duncan expresses his desire for the light bulb sculptures to inspire community members about Spartanburg’s transformation.

“We want to do our part to contribute to what is happening downtown,” he says. “The light bulbs will be installed in various locations downtown to develop a walking tour and provide the town with a symbol of the excitement surrounding Spartanburg’s innovation and evolution. The initiative both supports local artists and gets local businesses involved in the arts and connected with what is happening creatively in Spartanburg.”

The Spartanburg Art Museum strives to inspire and engage people of all ages through exhibitions and education. “In a small museum like this one, everyone has a hand in everything. We collaborate with programming to provide fun, exciting experiences for people. Art is for everyone. I love to see people get excited about art, and the size of this museum is conducive to being able to interact with viewers as they enjoy the artwork,” says Duncan.

For more information about the current exhibition, community events and Lighten Up Spartanburg, visit www.spartanburgartmuseum.org.

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