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  • Living with Water: New art exhibition and symposium at the Rice Museum

    In a powerful homage to the delicate relationship between humanity and the ever-shifting tides, artists Vida Miller and M.P. “Squeaky” Swenson unveil their latest collaboration, “Living with Water,” an evocative art exhibit set to run from March 23 to May 30, 2024, at The Rice Museum in Georgetown on South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®.

    Drawing inspiration from an upcoming symposium, set for April 18–19, 2024, on coastal resilience in South Carolina, “Living with Water” seeks to explore the multifaceted dimensions of existence along the state’s coastline.

    Through a fusion of mediums and perspectives, Miller and Swenson offer a poignant reflection on the maritime heritage inherent in the region’s relationship with water. The exhibition serves as a visual tribute to the symposium’s theme, which endeavors to dissect the complexities of coastal living and equip communities with the knowledge needed to navigate the challenges of rising tides and changing landscapes.

    “It has been so much fun to work with dear friends Jim Fitch (director of the Rice Museum) and Squeaky Swenson on this show,” Miller said. “The theme of the show, Living with Water, is one that we enjoyed as it is the perfect description of what makes our area so special.”

    Admission is free, allowing all to engage in this vital conversation.

    Growing up in the mountains of South Carolina, Miller was taught to enjoy, appreciate, and respect nature. She still draws inspiration from frequent walks through the woods with her little Granny explaining plants, and nature and listening to the sounds of the woods.

    Miller has experimented with most art mediums over the years. Some of her earlier work includes awarding-winning abstracts using materials from nature as an art medium. She is particularly fond of landscapes and the ever-changing atmosphere that makes each day a new venture and challenge.

    Six or seven years ago she discovered pastel painting and was able to begin her pastel journey with a nationally recognized pastel artist. She continues to enjoy using this purest form of pigment to express her feelings in the landscapes of the area.

    Miller is the former owner of the Gray Man Gallery in Pawleys Island and has studied with numerous nationally renowned artists over her 40 years of painting. Her work has been purchased by private and corporate collections.
    She currently serves on the South Carolina Arts Alliance Board and the SC Arts Foundation Board, and is founder of the Waccamaw Neck Arts Alliance. Miller lives in Pawleys Island with her husband, Michael Carter, and enjoys mentoring the next generation of young artists in her family.

    Swenson’s artwork is inspired by the natural world. The painting starts by putting acrylic paint on board in a random fashion. The result is an accidental relationship of color, pattern, or shapes. It’s improvisational painting, without referring to photos, sketches, or drawings. It is a dialogue with the paint- intuitive painting.

    As paint or texture is added, an image will emerge that suggests a memory. Symbolism is very important in her work. Water, the sun, and the moon all play an integral part in creating tactile surfaces that in turn create an immediacy with the viewer. Her most recent work features landscapes of Pawleys Island.

    Swenson is the publisher of the Coastal Observer newspaper in Pawleys Island and has been painting for more than 30 years. Swenson has studied with nationally-known artists from all over the United States, and her work is in private and corporate collections in the U.S. and Europe.


    She is the winner of numerous awards. She lives in Pawleys Island with her husband, Charles, and her son, Trevor.

    About the 2024 Living with Water Symposium
    This symposium intends to address the complex question of living along the coast of South Carolina by examining the historical, cultural, ecological, and social research to be better equipped to address the challenges of living with water.

    Speakers for the symposium:

    • Kevin Dawson, Ph.D. Assistant Professor University of California – “Liquid Motion: Canoeing in Atlantic Africa and the African Diaspora”
    • Michael Piehler, Ph.D. Director of the Department of Ecological Studies University of North Carolina – “Past Present and Future: The Changing Coastline of South Carolina”
    • Zenobia Harper, Director of the Charles Joyner Institute of Gullah and African Diaspora Studies Coastal Carolina University – “Da Water Brought Us: The Gullah Perspective of Water”
    • Don Quattlebaum, White House Plantation, Georgetown, SC – “21st Century Rice Planter: Managing Water for 200 years

    Tickets for the symposium are $75 for adults and $35 for students with ID. This price includes all lectures, meet and greet cocktail party on April 18, and lunch on April 19. To purchase tickets, click here.

    The Rice Museum, located at 633 Front St. in Georgetown, has served the Lowcountry for over 50 years celebrating art, history, and culture. It is one of five museums located in the historic district of Georgetown. For more information, contact Jim Fitch at thericemuseum@gmail.com or visit ricemuseum.org.