The “Marked by Water” exhibit, made to remember last year's flood through a mixture of visual art, spoken word, film and dance, premiered at the Tapps Art Center on Oct. 4.
The flood last year was an event of epic proportions and is nicknamed the “1000 year flood." The premiere for this exhibit came on the eve of another storm, Hurricane Matthew.
A main theme of the exhibit is the need to remember. Paul Brown, a poet at the event, spoke about what art means to him.
“I think the creative ways of understanding, representing a narrative through visual art or the written word is the way people make sense of events," Brown said.
“I think art plays a big, a very important role in how we think about the events that affect us," he said.
For many in the Columbia community, the memory of the flood is still strong. Through this exhibit, the emotions of the community are felt through different perspectives. Whether through an acrylic painting or a poem, all the artists spoke to the same basic emotion in an attempt to build a strong sense of community.
The various artists found their inspiration differently. For poet Bill Higgins, it was in the form of a bucket and water.
“I got a call at 4:30 in the morning from my ex-wife who was bailing water out of her kitchen.” Higgins said.
“We bailed and bailed that morning and there was no way to keep it from flooding and pooling in most of the house,” he said.
One aspect that Higgins mentions in his poem is the repetitive X’s that he saw on houses that were ruined by the flood.
“It was not anything that Columbia had experienced previously. It was a trauma," Higgins said.
Some other artists also found their motives through what they witnessed from the flood personally.
“I got a chance to use my eyes and ears and look at the Chinooks in the sky and the sandbag drops," Worthy Evans, a poet, said.
As a whole, the exhibit was a community building event. Different people with different backgrounds came together to create a tangible response to October’s flood.
As the exhibit is centered on last year’s flood, there was a sense of irony with Hurricane Matthew on the radar.
“It seems ironic," Higgins said. "We're commemorating an event of nature when another event of nature is approaching and we, at this time, have no idea about what it’s going to do in South Carolina.”
However, Higgins went on to clarify that South Carolina isn't the only place that he is concerned about in regards to Hurricane Matthew.
“To me, the real Matthew story is how devastated Haiti is going to be.”
The flood last fall was devastating, but the artists behind the "Marked by the Water" exhibit seek to remind attendees of the strength and dignity that the Columbia community showed through the natural disaster.
The exhibit runs from Oct. 4 to Oct. 28. On Oct. 6 there will be free general admission for First Thursday on Main.