Art from the Ashes: Columbia Artists Respond to the Burning of Their City
Edited by Cynthia Boiter
$12 from Muddy Ford Press
During the summer of 2014, more than two dozen visual, literary, and musical artists from Columbia, South Carolina gathered on multiple occasions with four historical experts to learn as much as they could about a night almost 150 years earlier when General William Tecumseh Sherman and his army invaded and burned their city, an episode that would eventually lead to the end of America’s Civil War. There were no war reenactors among them, no Lost Cause mythologists or closet racists. There were no conservatives. In fact, the members of the group were not only artists but die-hard intellectuals with relentlessly inquisitive spirits hungry to learn not only about the atrocities that occurred the night of February 17, 1865, but about the atrocities that led to the events of that night as well as those that resulted from that night for decades to come.
In this brief collection of poetry, prose, and even a screenplay, thirteen literary artists respond to their immersion into the facts surrounding the night of Sherman’s burning of Columbia. There is frustration, anger, indignation, sympathy, empathy, guilt, and sentimentality. And while this collection is packed to capacity with truth, there are, sadly, very few answers.
Written to accompany a month long exhibition of visual art by the painters, sculptors, and installation artists who were also part of the group of artists and scholars, this volume, edited by Jasper Magazine’s Cynthia Boiter, is an intimate study of one of the most significant moments in the history of South Carolina, and the country itself. Literary artists include Susan Levi Wallach, Tara Powell, Tom Poland, Ray McManus, James D. McCallister, Ed Madden, Rachel Haney, Will Garland, Debra A. Daniel, Jonathan Butler, Elizabeth Breen, and Al Black. Cover art is by internationally renowned visual artist Susan Lenz.
Cynthia Boiter is a six time winner of the SC Fiction Project, a two time winner of the Piccolo Fiction Open, and the SC Academy of Authors fellowship, and winner of the Porter Fleming Award for fiction. Her non-fiction work has appeared in national publications ranging from Woman’s Day and Family Circle to Southern Living. She is the author of Buttered Biscuits – Short Stories from the South (Muddy Ford Press, 2012), the editor and a contributor to The Limelight, volume 1 (Muddy Ford Press, 2013), a contributor to State of the Heart (USC Press, 2013), a contributor to Inheritance, (Hub City Press, 2001), and the founder and editor-in-chief of Jasper Magazine–The Word on Columbia Arts.