Photo: Courtesy of Chris Judge

ArtBreak celebrates Native American history and Catawba pottery

The Columbia Museum of Art will celebrate the beginning of Native American Heritage Month with ArtBreak, a lecture discussing Catawba heritage on Nov. 8. The event will feature guest speaker Brent Burgin, the director of archives at the University of South Carolina Lancaster’s Native American Studies program.

Burgin has processed four individual collections at the USC Lancaster archives that include Catawba artifacts such as legal papers, personal documents, images and pottery. These archives form the largest collection of documentation about the Catawba in existence. 

ArtBreak is part of a monthly series that features different local artists and historians that share their interpretation on artwork at the museum. Kayleigh Vaughn, the education manager at the art museum and organizer of the ArtBreak program, said the event is not necessarily a formal lecture. 

“Sometimes we do have artists who will talk,” Vaughn said, “but we tend to make the series kind of out of the box, or special in some way.” 

This contemporary lecture and discussion seeks to recognize the contributions of Catawba art and heritage to South Carolina history.

This month, ArtBreak will start at 10:30 a.m. with The Wired Goat pop-up café in the lobby. Guests can purchase coffee or pastries from the shop before the lecture begins at 11 a.m.  The event is free with membership to the museum and is included with admission price for non-members.  Student admission into the museum is $5. 

Courtesy of the Columbia Museum of Art

According to Vaughn, one of the goals of the program was to offer more daytime events for museum patrons. It is executed through the Creative Age Initiative grant, which aims to include programs more accessible to older adults and individuals who have more free time during the day. 

The Catawba Nation is the only federally recognized tribe in South Carolina, and the art of Catawba pottery has been practiced for over 6,000 years. The museum possesses several pieces of Catawba pottery, with one piece on display in the permanent viewing collection.

“When you’re talking about Catawba pottery, it’s one of those traditions that is probably one of the oldest art forms within our state,”  Vaughn said. “I really wanted to kind of highlight the beauty of the tradition.” 



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