featuring works of art by artist Stephen Nevitt will open at City Art Gallery as part of the Artista Vista 20th Year celebration. The public is invited to a reception for the artist to be held the first evening of Artisa Vista Thursday April 28 from 5:00 to 9:00 p.m. The exhibit remains in the main gallery through May 30, 2011.



My art works during recent years continue to be about family, but they have focused primarily on a handful of individuals, many of whom were women who quietly showed great courage and determination in the face of overwhelming difficulties. As I found additional information through research and conversations with elderly relatives, I became more and more impressed with these women's responses to tragic circumstances.

This exhibit consists of a collection of portraits in tribute to seven of my female ancestors with written feedback on each of them describing what I know of her life and the strength of her character and resolve. Most works for this exhibit are from recent years, and a handful of others are from the past. Subjects include the following:

• Elizabeth Arms (my great great grandmother, born circa 1826)
• Lucy Talbot Ramsey (my great grandmother, 1855-1939)
• Lillie B. Lawson (my great grandmother, 1876-1939)
• Susie Mary Belle Smith (my great aunt, 1898-1945)
• Arnettie/Nettie Mae Smith (my grandmother, 1899-1921)
• Tillie Francis Smith (my great aunt, 1901-1989)
• Lillie Mae Bratcher (my mother, 1917-1997)

Common threads in their lives include a search for personal identity and dignity, a struggle for survival, and probable frustration with restrictions placed upon them by societal expectations. Repeatedly in my reflections on the lives of ancestors in this exhibit, I found myself exploring the lost opportunities for women who, due to the milieu into which they were born, could not pursue their ambitions and dreams.

My long-standing love for old family photographs goes well beyond nostalgia fads. It stems from my experiences as a young boy. My parents were born and raised in Kentucky and moved to the Carolinas just before I was born. As a result, my siblings and I grew up hundreds of miles away from extended family, and we consistently heard rich and colorful stories about our ancestors in conjunction with the viewing of old family photographs kept in a cardboard box under my parents' bed. As an undergraduate student, I began making drawings and prints from these photographs and have continued working with them to this day. Through the years, I have communicated with relatives who assisted me with genealogical research. As a result of these contacts, I have added more photos to my family album, and these gifts have inspired new works of art that offer layers and passages to family stories as yet untold.


A native of Charlotte, NC, Stephen Nevitt is the Art Program Coordinator at Columbia College and a former member of the faculty at the South Carolina Governor’s School of Arts and Humanities Summer Honors Program. He earned his BFA at the University of South Carolina and a master’s degree from the State University of New York, College at Oswego.

Additional parts of Artista Vista will feature Cindy Saad with her original hand made jewelry Thursday evening (small work gallery) and the University of South Carolina Percussion Ensemble will perform Saturday April 30 at 1:00 p.m. in the Main Gallery of City Art.