Illustration by Gracie Newton
Art is the driving force of all things empowering and beautiful, whether we see it at first glance or through a bit of exploration and soul searching. Through art, we can honor and recognize a project that is taking place as we speak in Columbia’s local art community.
Based on "The Dinner Party" by Judy Chicago, "The Supper Table" is an art installation that Cindi Boiter has been dreaming up and planning for over 10 years. Boiter, who works as the executive director of the Jasper Project, a nonprofit organization that supports local artists and displays local art in Columbia, is bestowing upon us something that will never be forgotten. It is art that she, along with the artists beside her, are bringing to life.
"The Supper Table" is a collaborative art installation consisting of 12 literary artists, 12 visual artists, 12 theater artists, filmmakers, photographers, videographers, furniture artists, portrait artists and growing – and all are women. The project itself will focus on honoring and recognizing 12 prominent women from South Carolina’s history who have created stepping stones for the generations of women after them.
Christina Xan, the assistant project manager to Boiter and 1 of the 12 literary artists featured in "The Supper Table," is aware of the importance a project like this brings to our community. It is a project of artists bringing life to history and of women honoring women.
“I hope people know that not only are we a talented and unique arts community but that we are here to empower others and not let those who history tends to forget be forgotten, whether it’s in paintings, photographs, sculptures, writing or film,” Xan says. “I hope people are also reminded of how wonderfully intersectional art is. With art, you can touch and honor anyone.”
The women involved in this project are honoring women who come from different backgrounds and experiences than their own, all privileged to recognize their specific woman in the most righteous and worthy way possible. For example, Xan will be writing on Eartha Kitt, powerhouse performer and voice for all.
“I know that as a white woman, I will never understand or be able to step into the shoes of a Black woman’s experience, no matter how much of an ally I am,” Xan says. “My hope is to tell her story in a way that is positive to her, open, honest and real – but with just the right amount of flair that Eartha would have loved.”
The project that Boiter, along with the other female artists involved, is creating is a stepping stone itself for women in South Carolina and around the world. Not only are they recognizing women who deserve it, but they are women making a difference by doing so.
Xan says she and other female artists have faced discrimination and adversity in the art community. Xan says some adversaries have even gone so far as to argue that women "can't understand the craft." This all-female project is taking a stand against this idea through their voice and talent.
What "The Supper Table" is doing – recognizing the women of our past – is important in recognizing the evolution that women have gone through. It is important to understand the women from our past who helped build our future. Best said by Christina Xan:
“I hope that this marks a turning point in our community’s recognition of who built the world around them. So many women went into the founding of our cities, our art, civil rights, human rights and more. Women in our past were mothers, wives and caretakers, of course, but they were also doctors, scientists, inventors, activists, artists, politicians and more. I hope when we tell the story of our state, we tell of the women who built us. I hope we never forget their names again.”
"The Supper Table" is set to debut for its opening reception on Sept. 6. From there, it will be installed at Harbison Theater. Keep your eyes and ears open for more information. This is a piece that these powerful female artists want let the world see.