HBF: History’s Remnant: The Lowcountry Rice Fields from the Sky

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HBF(1)October 28, 2016 Press Release Contact: Maxine Lutz         843-379-3331

A one-of-its-kind exhibit of large-format aerial photos of Lowcountry rice fields has opened at the Verdier House at 801 Bay Street. The exhibit, Remnants of the Rice Culture: Agricultural History as Art, is comprised of 50 color photos infused on aluminum at high temperatures and pressure.

The fields are known to travelers of the Lowcountry from Georgia to Georgetown, SC as limitless horizons of marsh and canals. Artist David Shriver Soliday has given them a new perspective – from a low-flying plane – that illustrates their grandeur and their amazing engineering history. The photographs’ fusion to metal allows for true colors which create an abstract pallet.

Designed and dug by enslaved West Africans in the late 18th and 19th centuries, the fields provided a cash crop known as the Rice Empire that made scores of antebellum planters among the wealthiest people in America. For over 300 years, the cultivation of rice impacted the landscape until the early 20th century when a radically changed economy left the fields fallow. Today, the remnants of the fields provide an environmental haven for migratory waterfowl as well as the new crop of rice reintroduced as Carolina Gold.

Sponsored by Historic Beaufort Foundation, the exhibit which will be hung through March 2017, will be enhanced by three field trips to historic rice plantations and lectures on Soliday’s  art and the role that African-Americans played in their economic success. Call the Foundation at 843-379-3331 or go to www.historicbeaufort.org for more information.

Sidebar: Historic rice fields to be topic of Dinner & a Lecture

Aerial photographs of the Lowcountry’s expansive rice fields will be the topic of Dinner & a Lecture at the Verdier House, 801 Bay Street, November 14, 5:30 – 7 p.m. Artist David Shriver Soliday will talk about the perspectives shot from a low-flying aircraft along hundreds of miles of coast over several decades. Over 50 of his large-formats photos infused on aluminum are on exhibit at the Verdier House through March 2017.

Soliday is a freelance photographer whose editorial credits include the National Geographic, National Wildlife and Smithsonian. After earning a degree in cultural anthropology from Amherst College, Soliday moved to the lowcountry and lived beside the rice lands for the next 25 years.

Commercial work is Soliday’s livelihood but his attention has returned to the rice fields time and again, resulting in “Remnants of the Rice Culture: Agricultural History as Art.” In the exhibit he portrays the story that was carved into the earth’s surface by enslaved Africans. The immense engineering and physical skills provided by the slaves in creating the Lowcountry’s rice fields resulted in great wealth for their owners and for the region. They changed the landscape and created a unique culture that connects the American South to West Africa.

Dinner & a Lecture is a monthly educational series, September – May, sponsored by Historic Beaufort Foundation. Reservations are necessary as seating is limited. A wine and hors d’oeuvre reception begins at 5:30; the program is 6 p.m. – 7 p.m. Admission for members is $15/$25 per member/couple. Non-member admission is$20/$30 per person/couple. Call 379-3331 to make reservations. Reservations for Saltus River Grill’s special for lecture ticket-holders may be made by calling Saltus at 379-3474.

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