Visual arts abound at N. Charleston festival

Pedro Rodriguez’s art reflects Latino American history.

It has been 34 years since this once-small art festival debuted at Park Circle in North Charleston in 1982. Thirteen years ago, the North Charleston Arts Festival outgrew the space at Park Circle and migrated to the anchor of North Charleston, the Coliseum.

The festival has only grown in size and stature since its inception and 2016 is no different.

With a multitude of music, theater, visual arts and food, there is crossover appeal to all generations. If you can’t find something to enjoy, you may just need to check your pulse.

Here are a few of the festival’s visual art highlights:

A pre-festival event, contemporary artist Ife Franklin highlights the importance of slave dwellings with a life-size replica of a slave cabin.

The cabin, painted indigo in honor of the indigo the slaves produced, draws attention to the ancestry of slaves, spirits and their dwellings. After a performance of “The Slave Narrative of Willie Mae” in which Franklin calls upon the spirit of her ancestors, the community is invited to write their own messages on the cabin structure to communicate with the souls, spirits and kindred of ancestor slaves.

Interactive and powerful, this exhibit turns our attention to an important part of local and national history.

As a lifelong reader of comics, I can attest to their transformative power. As a young reader, I was engrossed by the combination of visual art and storytelling and the Taking Flight Comic Book Show offers readers and collectors of all ages a chance to meet comic artists Tom Lyle and John Hairston Jr. and even buy supplies to create their own art and comics.

North Charleston artist-in-residence Daryle Halbert leads a hands-on, materials-provided Children’s Art Workshop for youths to create sketches and designs and then transfer their work to bandanas. (Registration is required for this workshop.)

Later that evening, two major visual arts events will take place. The first event is an unveiling and reception of Pedro Rodriguez’s “Latino Americans: 500 Years of History.”

Local artist Rodriguez displays an abstract art piece that specifically celebrates music and Latino culture. Made in collaboration with local middle school artists and The Citadel, the piece draws attention to Latinos in the Lowcountry and their rich heritage and current challenges.

One of the largest family-friendly events, the Art Walk, takes place Wednesday evening and will feature large outdoor wall murals from the ChArt Outdoor Initiative, free face painting (an artform in itself, really), and local Artist Guild members and their art for sale at the artist market.

With Mother’s Day coming up soon, original art and handcrafted materials would make for special gifts.

All events are free and open to the public. A suggested $5 donation for the comic book show is requested to benefit a local charity.

Specific times and places for events found at: www.northcharlestonartsfest.com/events.