Small rooms or dwellings discipline the mind, large ones weaken it. – Leonardo Da Vinci
There is a movement in today’s culture to return to a smaller house. Tiny House blog tells many stories of people simplifying and downsizing, for many reasons, not the least of which is the downturn in the economy. My 18 months living in Rosy on Edisto Island taught me more than a university education in gratitude, detachment and resourcefulness.
But my own fascination with small dwellings include historical ones here in Charleston.
My painting, posted here, is of the slave dwellings at McLeod Plantation, on James Island in Charleston. And this week I drove out to Magnolia Plantation to meet with D. J. Tucker, Herb Frazier, and Joseph McGill to talk about small houses that are bigger than life here in the Carolina Lowcountry, and about art and beauty and history. About how paintings like this one of mine can help support the whole idea of a larger conversation, with Joseph McGill, Jr. of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, about slave dwellings. What is their place, and their value today?
Magnolia is a place that is beautiful, inspiring and alive – with its own row of beautifully restored slave cabins. D.J.Tucker is director of African American History at Magnolia and is one enthusiastic bundle of Canadian energy. Magnolia has a particularly strong link to this rare and previously untold history. The Lowcountry Africana Project allows researchers to finally research their African American ancestors, and is a fine resource, and there are continuous programs here to share this previously untold history, to share the history behind the ‘Big House’, of those who actually built ‘the Big House’ and tended those magnificent gardens.
Joe McGill has taken on a huge project to call attention to the importance of the last of these slave dwellings from history, and is traveling all over the South spending the night in the last existing dwellings that were built for and by slaves, to call attention to their value and history.
This history is a complicated one, but like life itself, it is full of paradox. Sounds like art to me.
Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge. – Winston Churchill