SAUNDRA “RENEE” SMITH
The bright hues born from a culture tempered in isolation is what makes my authentic work a special tribute to the Gullah people who hold a place wholly unique in American history. Located in the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor of the southeastern coast of the United States, the Gullah people have lived and thrived. Being a neighbor of the famous folk artist Sam Doyle, I aspire to capture the historical prospective of the Gullah people through visual art. Gullah is a language and the culture which evolved from the people living in the Sea Islands. The Gullah are a people of African decent with a gentle blending of the Indians who inhabited these sea islands, the Guale. The memories of “de luk pon we islund” is inspired by the isolation of the Gullah people, which once maintained, helped to keep the culture intact. Cotton, rice, indigo, basket weaving, colorful dresses, and brightly colored head rags and hats to cover unique nappy hair is what inspires me to paint. My self-taught skills of outsider art, was born through pain, and has earned me a place among Americas great outsider folk artist, according to B. Sellen of the National Advisory Board for the Folk Society of America. My art is a testament of “grow-in up Gullah” on St. Helena Island South Carolina. My work is spiritual and transforming as it strives to tell the visual story of the culture of a unique people. The art captures ladies with hats pulled low to cover secrets carried softly on the waters which run so deeply through the veins of the Gullah culture. Follow me for a visual journey of life in it's most natural and innocent state, untouched and in full color, the authentic look upon our island with Gullah Art By Renee.
My medium ranges from acrylic on canvas or board, to old tin or glass window panes! Each piece strives to captures the natural beauty of the salt marshes, tidal creeks, and palmetto trees in elegant, vivid colors. A peek through the eyes of simplicity and innocence shows what it means to be a part of a unique culture and lifestyle. Ever present is the water, whose spirit sustains us. Our blue roots will be kept alive through the visual and oral education of our next generation.
The inspiration for my art came by way of tragic events that took place in my life during the winter of 2008. The loss of four very dear family members lead me to a dark place, but later to a period of spiritual awakening, and eventually to a trans-formative rebirth drawn from bright colors on white canvas. My husband Michael encouraged my innate gift of painting during those difficult days, and to him I will be eternally grateful for becoming an active part of the Gullah Geechee cultural heritage corridor.