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S.C. Arts Commission celebrates 50 years, with CCU front and center

by Kane

In its 50-year tradition of honoring top artists in the state, the South Carolina Arts Commission has selected artists from Coastal Carolina University more frequently than those at any other institution. The commission continued and extended its relationship with CCU in 2017-18 with a special May anniversary event and two commemorative publications.

The S.C. Arts Commission was established in 1967, when Gov. Robert E. McNair signed legislation to create the agency with the purpose of bringing heightened attention and increased financial support to South Carolina artists and their work. Each year, the commission names artistic fellows in fields including poetry, prose, musical competition and performance, dance, theater, visual arts and folk heritage.

This year, Gov. Henry McMaster continued the tradition of acknowledging the importance of arts and artists around the state at the South Carolina Arts Awards Day ceremony, held May 2 at the State House in Columbia. In addition to the annual awards, however, this year’s ceremony marked particular achievements for Coastal Carolina University.

CCU holds the title among universities throughout the state for having the highest number of faculty receive awards and fellowships. Because of this distinction, CCU held an event on campus in November 2017 to commemorate the anniversary, and CCU’s Athenaeum Press created Arts 50, a comprehensive retrospective publication that highlights the work of all fellowship recipients including the fields of visual art, literature and folk heritage.

Following that event, the commission initiated a second collaboration with the Athenaeum Press to create a publication to showcase the written works of literary arts fellowship participants over the years. The S.C. Arts Commission officially unveiled the publication, titled South Carolina Voices: Poetry and Prose, at the May event. CCU faculty featured in the anthology include Dan Albergotti, Jeremy Griffin, Hastings Hensel and late Paul Rice, all from the Department of English. In addition, the artwork of Elizabeth Keller, retired faculty in the Department of Visual Arts and 2018-19 S.C. Arts Commission Craft Fellow, appears in the publication.

Students played a central role in the creation of both publications. Kaitlyn Cegielski, senior graphic design major, designed Arts 50, while Thomas Mesiarik, junior graphic design major, designed South Carolina Voices: Poetry and Prose, and Alisa Alice, student in the Master of Arts in Writing (MAW) program, edited the book.

Griffin, the S.C. Arts Commission 2018 Prose Fellow, read a sample of his work at the event. He was honored to both showcase his work and be recognized by the commission for his contributions to the arts.

“The S.C. Arts Commission has been supporting artists like myself for half a century,” said Griffin. “It’s a thrill to be able to share my work with other artists across the state.”

The online version of South Carolina Voices: Poetry and Prose is available at

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