State Museum acquires “Matriarchs of the Lowcountry” portrait series by artist Natalie Daise

April 11, 2024

Paintings celebrate “patron saints” of Gullah cuisine with 24K gold leaf and halos of woven sweetgrass

The South Carolina State Museum recently acquired the portrait series, “Matriarchs of the Lowcountry,” by renowned artist and beloved storyteller Natalie Daise. Daise, well-known for her starring role in the popular Nickelodeon series Gullah Gullah Island, created these pieces as an homage to six Black women who have preserved and shared Gullah culture and foodways with the world.

Created during the Charleston Wine + Food Festival in 2023, “Matriarchs of the Lowcountry” is a celebration of six culinary trailblazers: Emily Meggett, Martha Lou Gadsden, Albertha Grant, Sally Ann Robinson, Sara Green and Charlotte Jenkins. Each portrait depicts one of these “patron saints” of Gullah cuisine embraced by dark green collard leaves, dressed in brightly colored attire, and adorned with a halo of woven sweetgrass and 24K gold leaf. These paintings aim to capture the generous spirit of these Black culinary pioneers.

“I felt an intimate connection to each of them,” said Daise. “I felt the love they had for their communities and the way they shared that love—a pan of cornbread, the sizzle of fried chicken, their asbestos textured hands pulling hot pans of sweet potato out of the oven. They are the reason we are here.”

“It’s been an honor to work with Mrs. Daise in adding this important portrait series to the museum’s collection,” says Dr. Ramon Jackson, Curator of African American History and Culture. “This artwork offers an opportunity to for us explore the role of the Gullah in shaping South Carolina’s cultural heritage and highlights the importance of Black women as leaders, activists and storytellers.”

All six “Matriarchs of the Lowcountry” portraits will be exclusively on display during the museum’s Harvesting Heritage: Black Culinary Traditions in the Palmetto State event on Saturday, May 18. This special evening will also feature discussions with artist Natalie Daise, rising culinary star Amethyst Ganaway and Dr. Ramon Jackson. A limited number of tickets are available for this event at


About the South Carolina State Museum

Over the past 35 years, the South Carolina State Museum has been committed to collecting, preserving and showcasing the rich culture, art, natural history, technology and innovation of the Palmetto State. Through a comprehensive collection of over 1.1 million objects and four floors of stimulating exhibitions and displays housed within the historic Columbia Mills Building, the State Museum provides educational environments that entertain, inspire and enrich the lives of millions of visitors and students from across South Carolina. For more information about the museum, visit