The Art and Art History Program has a robust visiting artist series, exhibition schedule, and permanent teaching collection. Our galleries include the following: academic galleries for class work and critiques, the Etherredge Center Galleries, the Kierspe Gallery, and the Livio Orazio Valentini Permanent Collection and Online Archive. Students are also encouraged to exhibit their work in the SAC Gallery located in the Student Activity Center on campus.
Located in the academic wing of the Etherredge Center, our academic galleries exhibit current student work from corresponding studios and art history courses. Our academic galleries are also used for critiques and experiential teaching activities.
The Etherredge Center Galleries
The Etherredge Center Gallery hosts up to ten exhibitions per year. In addition to featuring visiting artists, the gallery showcases UofSC Aiken student work in the Senior Capstone Art Show. It also hosts the prestigious Carolina Series, which highlights an established South Carolina artist each spring.
The upper and lower galleries have 180 linear feet of wall space with track lighting. Past exhibiting artists include Leslie Alexander, Micah Cash, Kristy Hughes, Sean Hurley, Jay Jacobs, Cecil Williams, and Livio Orazio Valentini.
The Etherredge Center Gallery is free and open to the public during Etherredge Center business hours.
The Kierspe Gallery
Supported by George and Jean Kierspe, the Kierspe Gallery is located in the academic wing of the Etherredge Center. It features smaller exhibitions on rotation with our visiting artist series. The Kierspe Gallery is also used as a teaching space, featuring curated exhibitions by Art History Capstone students.
Livio Orazio Valentini, Odissea, 1997, oil on canvas
The Livio Orazio Valentini Permanent Collection
The University of South Carolina Aiken is fortunate to have the most extensive collection of work by the late Italian artist Livio Orazio Valentini in the United States. Valentini visited and worked at the university in the late 1990s. His Aiken Period began in 1997, when he debuted his work for the first time in the United States at the Etherredge Center. His time here helped to forge a lasting partnership among members of the Aiken, Orvieto, and the UofSC Aiken communities. Valentini, who was an artist-in-residence at the university in 1999, also helped to develop a scholarship for B.A. in Art students interested in studying abroad in Orvieto, Italy. While his work in Aiken only spans half a decade, it would be a mistake to dismiss it as existing on the periphery of his larger lifelong practice and development in Italy. On the contrary, his Aiken Period work exhibits a culmination of seminal ideas, a maturity and newness in design, and the reflexive mindset of an accomplished artist. Aiken Period paintings, such as Odissea (1997) and Galassia (2000-2001), which signify a distinctive shift in thematic interplay, are also seen as figurative self-portraits, exhibiting expressions of deliverance, transcendence, and artistic renewal. Aiken provided Valentini with a space for reflection—one where the artist recalled his life experiences, including those from World War II, and exhaled a cultural and artistic rebirth.
In 1997, Valentini also presented Odissea to the University of South Carolina Aiken. The gesture of the gift commemorates the friendship between Aiken and Orvieto “in perfect harmony with the thought and intent of the many people who spent time and energy cooperating to make the exchange between two different cultures possible.” The subject of the painting, on the other hand, signifies a celebrated figurative and personal triumph. Odissea features a horizontal section of razor wire—perhaps a residual reference from one of the concentration camps where Valentini was a prisoner of war—below a white bird, who rises above the figurative ashes of containment. This freed bird in Odissea also breaks from the physical bindings that Valentini featured prominently in earlier works with constrained birds, such as Bird in Nest (Uccello nel nido). The bird in Odissea is a fitting symbol at this time in the artist’s career, especially since it signifies a new direction and tone. In retrospect, the symbolic and directional gesture of the freed bird upward came to represent a new sense of personal, artistic, and thematic freedom, which is indicative of Valentini’s Aiken Period work. That Valentini’s art signaled a pursuit for freedom in general provides only more evidence that his Aiken transformation was part in parcel of a larger, lifelong development of processing lived experiences.
We welcome you to peruse the UofSC Aiken Valentini Collection, including recently donated works in the permanent collection in the upper Etherredge Center Gallery. The Etherredge Center Gallery is free and open to the public during Etherredge Center business hours. Additional resources may be accessed via the Livio Orazio Valentini Permanent Collection Archive.
The Livio Orazio Valentini Digital Archive features ephemera, photographs, and images of work by the artist. The website serves as our commemoration of a beloved artist, friend, and maestro. Additional archival material is added periodically.
The SAC Gallery is located in the Student Activity Center and features student work. B.A. in Art majors may schedule shows in the SAC Gallery.