Leo Twiggs (b. 1934, St. Stephen, SC) of Orangeburg, SC, is an esteemed batik artist. His work often speaks to personal life experiences, trials and tribulations that in many ways are universal while, at the same time, offers a sense of hope, renewal and resilience with the brilliance of his palette, composition, iconography and dynamism. Over the course of his over-50-year career, Twiggs has developed his own innovative technique for painting his batiks, setting his work apart – and making it highly recognizable – from the traditional medium. With over 75 one-man shows, Twiggs’ work has received international recognition.
Resilience will feature 30 works spanning Twiggs’ career with the earliest included batiks dating to 1969 – Blue Wall and Woman with Fan, both from the artist’s collection. Twiggs’ oeuvre is completed in series, most of which will be represented in exhibition. The Mother Image series is a recurring theme in Twiggs’ work. Mostly made up of silhouettes of children and grandmothers – Twiggs had a strong connection with his grandmother – Mother Image speaks to the universal theme of the bond between mother and child and the things we yearn for most from a mother figure: protection and love. His Commemoration series is a commentary on the South’s engrossment with the Confederate flag, while the Targeted Man series remarks on social intimidation experienced by targeted groups, such as the African-American community by the Ku Klux Klan. Twiggs’ East Wind Suite: The Hugo Series is an exploration of the strength of those forced to rebuild their lives after the devastating 1989 hurricane, Hugo, that struck our coastal Carolina community, stripping so many of their homes and life as they knew it. One of his more recent series, Mother Emanuel, is a memorial to the nine lives lost in a racially charged mass shooting at an AME church in Charleston, SC.
Twiggs’ art speaks across social boundaries and has the ability to spark dialogue within ourselves and with each other. With each obstacle addressed in his series – whether it be segregation, a natural disaster or a mass shooting – the artist finds a way to present and inspire hope, beauty and new perspectives that speak to the idea of resilience.
Twiggs received his BA Summa Cum Laude from Claflin University in Orangeburg and later studied at the Art Institute of Chicago. He received his MA from New York University, where he studied with Hale Woodruff, the acclaimed African-American painter and muralist. In 1970, he became the first African-American student to receive a doctorate of arts in art education from the University of Georgia. Twiggs went on to create the first fine arts degree program at South Carolina State University, where he was named Professor Emeritus in 2000. He was the first visual artist to receive the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award (1981) for outstanding contributions to the arts in South Carolina, and in 2020, he was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame.
Leo Twiggs | Resilience is generously sponsored by Bank of America.
© 2016 Franklin G. Burroughs • Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum
Myrtle Beach’s Franklin G. Burroughs-Simeon B. Chapin Art Museum strives to be one of the finest visual arts museums in the Carolinas. With 11 galleries that change throughout the year, Myrtle Beach’s only art museum offers exhibitions featuring paintings, textiles, sculpture, photography, video, ceramics, assemblage, collage and more. A visit to the Art Museum’s exhibitions can be enhanced by its lively programming, including artist receptions, tours, lectures, workshops and classes for both adults and children.