Williams’ poster series debuts at Fine Arts Center; photographer will discuss historic images | Local

Thirty years ago, Cecil Williams — using his vast collection of historic images — began developing a series of powerful story-telling wall art — called by some, “poster.”

The posters were created from Williams’ experiences during the era of the civil rights movement, amplified with his skills in photography, art and computer graphics.

Only recently during COVID-19, did he complete the series which now contains over 100 images.

He named the series: “The South Carolina History That Shaped America.”


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In addition to the general public and collectors, it is his intent to distribute sets of the posters to every middle and high school in the state. As many educators often proclaim, Williams believes images are 80% more effective as a learning tool.

“In today’s digital society, images shared with open licenses permit educators to easily create stimulating, thought-provoking content to inspire, provoke and transform the way learners see themselves and the world. Images are also most effective in developing values,” stated Williams

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“Visual images play a powerful role in the experiences of humans. They add emotional context and relevancy to topics and were the very first method of communication and expression used by humans tens of thousands of years ago,” Williams said. “There is no better way to judge the future than the past.”

Williams’ images — coming from his perspective growing up in the Deep South during the era of Jim Crow and racism — depict events and people who he believes significantly impacted American history.

For example, depicted in his collection are events and the people who affected or were affected by them. They include the Orangeburg Massacre, Thurgood Marshall, Septima Clark, Modjeska Simkins, Judge J. Waites Waring, Harry Briggs, Judge Matthew Perry, the quiet heroism of Elloree School teachers, President John F. Kennedy, the Rev. J.A. DeLaine, President Barrack Obama, Harry Briggs, the Charleston Hospital Workers’ Strike and many more.

The exhibition, which is in the Lusty Gallery through March 7, is free and open to the public.

This marks the debut of the poster series in an exhibition space other than the Cecil Williams South Carolina Civil Rights Museum.

At 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 1, Williams will discuss the historic significance of his collection in a gallery talk. The public is also invited to attend this event.

The multi-year production of the posters was made possible through an extensive list of sponsors and donors. Local sponsors include Paragon Builders, Tourville Management, Fulton Family Foundation, Mr. & Mrs. Young Butler, Dr. Richard Tyler, Reggie Gibson, Claudia Brinson, Carolyn Sanders James, Andre Rice (Muller & Monroe), Kenneth Chenault Foundation/Quick Family, Williams Sanchez Foundation/MacArthur Shuler and Wesley Williams Grant. Regional sponsors include Volvo, BMW, Dominion Energy, Walmart Community Foundation, Mullikan Law Firm, Gaylord-Donnelley Foundation, Brooklyn Community Foundation, Central Community Foundation, Good Neighbor Foundation, Black Voters Matter, South Carolina Arts Commission, South Carolina Humanities and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Copies of all the posters in the exhibition will be for sale. The Orangeburg County Fine Arts Center is located at 649 Riverside Drive, Orangeburg. The Arts Center is open Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.


TheTandD.com: $5.99 for the first month

For additional information contact the Arts Center at 803-536-4074 or email [email protected].

Robert G. Mull

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