A rich compendium of portraits from
two dozen photographers depicting
everyday South Carolinians
The Palmetto Portraits Project is a collaboration between the Medical University of South Carolina, the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston, and the South Carolina State Museum intended to reflect the full range and diversity of South Carolina citizens at work and play in the lowcountry, piedmont, and the upstate.
The portraits include close-ups and wide shots of ordinary people living in South Carolina. Military personnel from Fort Jackson, Parris Island, and Charleston Air Force Base are photographed. Factory workers at the BMW Manufacturing Plant are featured as well as firefighters, children, church attendees, and shop merchants on Charleston's King Street. From historical reenactors to a roller derby girl, these photographs highlight the range of individuals who make up everyday life in South Carolina.
Reminiscent of the Farm Security Administration's photographs of 1930s, the Palmetto Portraits Project is a visual survey of state residents at the end of the first decade of the twenty-first century. Novelist Josephine Humphreys provides an essay contemplating our shared kinship. Editor Mark Sloan offers insight into the privileged access that portrait photographers have long provided into the lives of their subjects. Each photographer prefaces his or her work with a brief description of the photographs and the experiences of working toward this collaborative project. In the afterword Paul E. Matheny III offers an assessment of how these portraits may be viewed by future generations and applauds the photographers for capturing "the soul of the state."
Mark Sloan is the director and senior curator of the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston School of the Arts. Sloan is an accomplished photographer and the author or coauthor of eight books.
South Carolina novelist Josephine Humphreys is the author of Dreams of Sleep (winner of the 1985 Ernest Hemingway Award for First Fiction), Rich in Love (made into a major motion picture), The Fireman's Fair, and Nowhere Else on Earth.
Paul E. Matheny III is chief curator of art at the South Carolina State Museum.
"The Palmetto Portraits Project reveals that we are both old and new. We are farmers, preachers, artists, tradesmen, taxidermists, roller-derby queens, factory workers, soldiers, scientists. We are eccentric and ordinary, salt-of-the-earth and miscreants, strugglers and dreamers. Our wild variety is our strength and our real wealth, as long as we recognize ourselves."—Josephine Humphreys, from the essay "Palmetto Portraits"