Taking Root: The ArtFields Collection Opens at 701 Center for Contemporary Art

Columbia, SC. An exhibition of the ArtFields Collection opens at the 701 Center for Contemporary Art one month before the popular ArtFields Competition and Festival launches in Lake City, SC. The regional competition is a much-anticipated event that awards over $100,000 annually in prizes to contemporary artists residing in 12 Southern states. As a result of the competition and through a purchase prize model, ArtFields has amassed a collection of works by winners of the competition. Taking Root: The ArtFields Collection opens at 701 CCA on Thursday, March 28th with a reception and closes on May 18th. The exhibition is presented in partnership with ArtFields.

Taking Roots provides a small glimpse into the types of work that one might see during the nine-day ArtFields Competition and Festival.  “In selecting works for this exhibition, it was important to include a piece to represent each year of the competition,” states Jamison Mady Kerr, curator of the exhibition and ArtFields program director of Art Town Development. In doing so, Kerr acknowledges that what became evident in her selections is “that the collection and this exhibition leans heavily towards figurative and representational work.”  

While large-scale and installation works such as Kristi Ryba’s Chapel of Perpetual Adoration and Brent Pafford’s Remember This as a Time of Day seem to dominate much of the collection, there are small-scale and more intimate works that ensnare visitors. MyLoan Dinh’s speed bag sculpture with ceramic conversation hearts titled Thanks. No Thanks and Forrest Lawson’s 6/12/2016 contemporary memorial with the names and life/death dates of the 49 victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting tend to draw the viewer in for closer inspection. The exhibition includes works that address migratory movement, social, political, spiritual, and environmental issues, and represents a good cross-section of studio practices and approaches to art-making in the region.

In addition to MyLoan Dinh (Charlotte, NC), Forrest Lawson (former resident of Winter Park, FL), Brent Pafford (former resident of Clemson, SC) and Kristi Ryba (Charleston, SC),  other artists included in the exhibition are Charles Anderson (New Orleans, LA), Jim Arendt (Conway, SC), Nik Botkin (Nitro, WV), Charles Clary (Conway, SC), Stephanie Glen (Jacksonville, FL), Amira Hanafi (Surfside Beach, SC), Noah James Saunders (Athens, GA), Noah Scalin (Richmond, VA), Melvin Toledo (Tucker, GA), and Alexi Torres (Atlanta, GA).

Taking Root is the second time the ArtFields exhibition has traveled to the capital city. For its inaugural opening in 2018, Stormwater Studios in Columbia hosted an exhibition of works by competition winners from 2013 – 2017. And more recently, an exhibition was hosted in 2023 by the Arts Center of Kershaw County in Camden. Ken May, board chair of 701 CCA states that he is “pleased to see the ArtFields collection make its way to other locations in the state and I am particularly excited about the partnership that has developed between 701 CCA and ArtFields.”

With the exception of the collection traveling in 2018, 2023, and this current exhibition at 701 CCA, it has only been seen in the permanent exhibition gallery and other spaces in Lake City. Kerr sees Taking Root not simply as a traveling exhibition but in more metaphorical terms. By presenting the collection outside of Lake City, Kerr states that “ArtFields is able to establish roots in other parts of South Carolina and the Southeast region.”

701 CCA’s mission is to serve as a catalyst for outstanding contemporary art engaging diverse communities and diverse artists in meaningful dialogue. With a gallery and live-work space for an Artist-in-Residence program, the Center provides artists with resources to develop, create and exhibit visual arts in conjunction with performing, literary and media arts. 701 CCA also offers year-round cultural programming, including contemporary art exhibitions and other events that are free and open to the public. 

701 CCA is located at 701 Whaley Street, 2nd Floor, Columbia, SC 29201. Gallery

hours are Thursday – Sunday, 1-5pm

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