July 2021 Artist of the Month - Victoria Smalls
As a proud Gullah Geechee native of St. Helena Island, South Carolina, Victoria serves in various capacities, as a public historian and educator, diversity leader, artist and arts advocate, and cultural preservationist. She attributes her commitments to the exploration and promotion of history, art and culture, to the rich intercultural environment steeped in Reconstruction Era and Civil Rights Era history and Gullah Geechee culture in which she was raised and nurtured.
For more than 15 years, Victoria has gained an appreciation and passion for learning and sharing all that she can about Gullah Geechee culture. Her current areas of focus are: Traditional and Contemporary Gullah Geechee Artists and Artwork, and identifying extant Prayer Houses in South Carolina and the Gullah Geechee Corridor.
Victoria is a professional visual artist, who has been creating for 20 years, and an art collector with over 100 pieces from various artists that tours the country. Victoria developed a traveling art exhibition, the Victoria A. Smalls Gullah Geechee & African Art Collection, which debuted at the Hampton County Arts Council’s Stanley Arts Center in 2019. For more than five years, Victoria managed the internationally acclaimed, Red Piano Too Art Gallery on St. Helena Island.
The Victoria A. Smalls Gullah Geechee Art and African Artifacts collection features over 100 works from emerging and notable artists, whose compositions derive from a broad range of styles and stories, conveying the collector’s love of her Gullah Geechee culture.
Victoria currently works for the National Park Service as a National Park Ranger with Reconstruction Era National Historical Park, in Beaufort County, SC.
She currently serves as a State Commissioner, SC African American Heritage Commission; as a Maven, Art of Community-Rural SC, an initiative of the SC Arts Commission; she is a Leo Twiggs Arts Leadership Scholar; and is also a Fellow, with the Riley Institute Diversity Leadership Initiative at Furman University.
Victoria served as the Director of History, Art and Culture, Director of the York Bailey Museum for Penn School National Historic Landmark District known as Penn Center in St. Helena Island, SC; as the Project Manager, International African American Museum, Charleston, SC; and as a former federal Commissioner with the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor.