The large batik flag that I placed above a sofa in the den of a Charleston, South Carolina home is by Orangeburg, South Carolina artist Leo Twiggs. The work is unique. Leo told me it is the only piece he has painted that came close to the actual color of a confederate uniform. It was that color that drew me in. I have seen numerous flag paintings by Twiggs-in private homes, in museum collections-but this flag spoke to me. Every time I visited Hampton III Gallery, I would mention to my good friend Sandy Rupp, the gallery owner, that one day, I would either place the painting in one on my client’s homes or add it to my own collection. The latter was not to be the case. The flag became the focal point of a room with wonderful grey paneling, created by African American Charlestonian Charles Pinckney. Its ghostlike presence creates a strong but somber element that represents a shared history of all Americans whose heritage may include the tumultuous years that led up to and that followed the American Civil War. As new generations come and go we as Americans must not forget or regret. We must move forward embracing the imagery and symbols that shaped us into who we are today. My thoughts behind this photograph that I staged with artist/photographer T. J. Getz run deep. I decided to make it an homage to Leo Twiggs, a young scholar who grew up to become a great South Carolina artist.
I asked Sandy Rupp to write something for this blog entry. This is what she wrote…
“How do you say something that’s about an old thing, that’s cotton, that’s tattered, that you see mold growing on, that you’ve treasured for a long time, that you’ve kept. You know, how do you create that?” Thus, one of the statements made by Leo Twiggs as he exhibited his work at Hampton III Gallery in January 2005. The above description, the Confederate flag: a symbol that Leo has been exploring since the early 1970’s. As one of the South’s leading African American artists, Leo brings his experiences to rest on the surfaces of cotton, dyed with the colors of personal notes.
All can come. All can look. Whatever one brings to the work, Leo encourages exploration. Pain, sorrow, isolation, regret, heritage, struggle, endurance-it’s all there. The rhythms of life, our Southern walk.
Leo now works on a series of 10 flags-the Last Flags. This flag is one in that series.
Leo has a book soon to be released.
To pre-order Leo Twigg’s book Messages from Home: The Art of Leo Twiggs, please contact Sandy Rupp at Hampton III Gallery (864-268-2771 or firstname.lastname@example.org)