Downtown on King Street a temporary art exhibit is now open to help people process all of the emotions that came with the tragedy at Emanuel AME Church. On June 17, 2015 a gunman killed nine people during a Bible study inside the church.
Curator of The Holy City Art Show gallery, Cookie Washington, says, “We said we wanted to create an art gallery that would also function as a sanctuary and a center for healing.”
40 different African American artists are contributing art from pottery, to paintings, to quilts, all with symbols of Mother Emanuel.
Washington says, “Church is supposed to be the safest place you are, ever. And for that to have happened, it touched a wound so deep.”
Much of the art is very emotional and that’s because many of the artists were distraught following the massacre, and the art helped them to heal.
One painter, Elayna Shakur, says, “I wanted somehow to paint the feeling of being nurtured by the darkness.”
A weaver and potter, Georgette Wright Sanders, says, “Embracing each individual, and the names of each individual, and giving homage to them in my own way through sculpting each piece allowed me to heal and allowed me to go to a place I’ve never been.”
With the anniversary so soon, the artists say they community is still in mourning, and needs closure.
Shakur says, “A lot of people, I think, bury it and don’t let it come up because they don’t want to feel it, and if they feel it they can heal it.”
Sanders says, “The power to embrace a situation, and be able to allow art to help you heal and allow others to heal and seize the moment to pass it on to others.”
The exhibit will be open Tuesday-Saturday 11am-6pm, and Sunday 1pm-5pm until July 17th at 414 King Street, Charleston, SC. On the evening of June 9th, the public is welcome to come meet many of the featured artists at the gallery. Most of the artwork is for sale, but you cannot purchase it until the exhibit is over in July.