The City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs announces City Gallery spring and summer exhibitions

June 2, 2021

2021 Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Exhibition and Visual Vigil by Susan Perkins

The City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs presents two exhibitions planned for City Gallery this spring and summer: 2021 Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Exhibition, on view May 28-June 13, and artist Susan Perkins’ Visual Vigil, on view June 24 through August 15, 2021. Due to the ongoing situation related to COVID-19 in South Carolina, City Gallery guests are requested to reserve in advance for free, timed admission online via or by phone by calling the gallery during business hours. Face masks are required of all guests and staff.

2021 Piccolo Spoleto Juried Art Exhibition

The annual juried art exhibition highlights the recent work of artists across South Carolina featuring painting, sculpture, drawing, printmaking, and photography. Artworks receiving prizes are presented alongside a limited selection of pieces identified by the juror as meriting display. This year’s juror is emerging Charleston artist Dontre Major. A graduate of the College of Charleston, Major is a photographer and studio artist at Redux Contemporary Art Center.

City Gallery will be open every day of the festival – May 28 through June 13 – from noon until 5pm. Invited artists for this year’s exhibition include: Leslie Alexander, Elaine Berlin, Pascale Bilgis, Chris Bilton, Joanna Biondolillo, Mikki Blackman, Kelvin Blufton, Vernon Bowen, Sandra Brett, Pamela Brooks, Laura Burcin, Christine Bush Roman, Karole Turner Campbell, Bradley Carroll, Alfred Casciato, Alfred Champy, Robin Childers, MC Churchill-Nash, JD Clark, Shelby Corso, Townsend Davidson, Sonny Dugal, Lynn Dugan, Morgan East, Pamela Eccles, Wilanda Ellis, Prentiss Findlay, John Foehl, Andrew Frye, Lee Garrard, LySandra Gathers, Rosemary Giusti Dillon, Sheila Grabarsky, Bob Graham, Gena Grant, Susan C. Gregory, Lyssa Harvey, Steven Hazard, Katie Heatley, Ted Henderer, Joanna Henry, Kirsten Hoving, Peggy Howe, Becky Hurwitz, Susan Irish, Anne M. Jennings, Carla Johannesmeyer, James Johnson, Celeste Joye, Jan Kelley, John Kenney, Alana Knuff, Christopher Lane, Louanne LaRoche, Annie Rhodes Lee, Melanee Lenora, Suzanne Leonard, Ann Ludlow, Jim Macko, Kate Martinez, Jeanne Mays, Doug McAbee, Judy McSween, Kevin Morrissey, CC Newkirk, Brenda Orcutt, Nancy Perry, Jacob Podber, Kathleen Pompe, Greg Rawls, Lynne Riding, Kate Ritchie, Francis Sills, Marian Smith, Laura Liberatore Szweda, Stuart Tessler, Diana Vincent, Simone Voelker, Nancy Warren, Elizabeth Northcut Williams, and Gia Rose Winchester.

Visual Vigil

Visual Vigil, an exhibition by artist Susan Perkins, was originally scheduled to be on view in March, 2020, but was rescheduled due to the pandemic.  On view June 24 through August 15, 2021, Visual Vigil is designed to be an active conversation on the effects of mass shootings; the installation is made up of contemplative pieces that represent the lives lost and communities affected by mass violence from 1903 through present day.

The works in Visual Vigil are unframed works of ink on paper. Each is a reaction to an episode of gun violence. The work is contemplative, and is clean and simply presented, yet speaks loudly. Perkins uses a restrained pallet for less distraction, to create empty space, and to remain neutral —allowing the viewer to bring individual significance to her works. Perkins began working on the Visual Vigil project after the mass shooting at Mother Emanuel, in her hometown of Charleston, SC.

As a part of her personal meditation, Perkins regularly engages in mark making with sumi ink on kozo paper — her personal calligraphy. The meditation marks are torn, collaged, and transformed to symbolize the on-going shifting and reshaping of life. Lokta paper weavings are created in a grid pattern then painted on kozo paper making a grid impression. The grid represents the collected energy field that we all live within. She believes we are interlinked — if one is affected, we are all affected. She further believes our greatest strength comes from our connectivity to one another. Perkins’ hope is for the art to serve as a backdrop for conversations around the societal and psychological effects of mass violence. “Through art making, I found a cathartic outlet to express my feelings, compassion, and tried to process the senseless violence,” she says. “Moreover, I began to take note of the societal effects.” The artist has been pondering the effects of mass violence on herself and her community, such as how we, as a society, process the fear of violence, how individuals deal with the psychological stress of lockdowns and live shooter drills, and how we function in a world where we don’t feel safe anymore. Perkins’ hope is that the exhibition will prompt discussions between reformers, activists, experts, educators, and survivors on the issues surrounding gun violence in our communities.


About the juror:

Dontre Major, originally from Oklahoma, moved to Charleston in 2015 where he graduated from the College of Charleston’s Studio Art program with a concentration in photography. While attending CofC, he was accepted to show in the juried Young Contemporaries Exhibitions in 2016, 2017, 2018; in the 2018 show he won two awards the Norton M. Seltzer Prize and The Laura M. Bragg Memorial Award as well as receiving the title Best in Show. After graduation, in 2018, Major was also a part of the Charleston Gaillard Center “Prints in Clay” exhibition which focused on the history of enslaved Africans and the fingerprints they left behind. In 2019, he also showed work in the “Enhancing African Descendant Identity through Community Engagement and DNA Analysis,” which was a project in collaboration between The Gullah Society and Redux Contemporary Art Center.


About the artist:

Susan Perkins lives in Charleston, South Carolina. She began her professional life in the field of journalism, her creativity blossomed through training in visual & applied arts. After years working in oil landscapes from the natural world, the earlier method of investigation & storytelling made way for engagement in the life of the spirit. Through simplicity and vulnerability a conversation begins. Perkins studied at the University of South Carolina. She has exhibited in Texas and South Carolina, and received the 2012 New Texas Talent award. For more information about Susan Perkins, please visit  For more information about Visual Vigil, please visit


About City Gallery

City Gallery, located at Joe Riley Waterfront Park, is owned by the City of Charleston and operated by the City of Charleston Office of Cultural Affairs, presenting an annual program of exhibitions and events featuring the finest contemporary art from local, regional, national and international artists, with a focus on the Lowcountry. City Gallery provides access to the visual arts for everyone in Charleston, visitors and residents alike, by offering exhibits that are all admission-free. City Gallery is located at 34 Prioleau St. in downtown Charleston, and gallery hours of operation are noon until 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. For more information and holiday closures, visit or call 843-958-6484.