The 701 Center for Contemporary Art partnered with ArtFields to bring “Taking Root: The ArtFields Collection” to Columbia. (Photos by Alexandra Tudor/Carolina News and Reporter)

“Seeing a creation that a person made – that came from the inside – you can see a spiritual production or manifestation of a human being,” artist Michael Morris said.

Morris was one of those attending the opening reception for Taking Root: The ArtFields Collection on Thursday. The 701 Center for Contemporary Art and ArtFields partnered to host the exhibition in 701’s space in Columbia.

“You can take the square root of four or whatever, pie, or imaginary numbers … but it will never touch you (like art),” said Morris, originally from Puerto Rico.

701 CCA provides free public cultural programming. The ArtFields works were past winners from the Lake City festival’s competitions, which spotlight work from artists in 12 Southern states. ArtFields is able to show the winners together because it buys the contest winners.

The festival turns the small S.C. town into one large, walkable art gallery and is popular with artists for its large cash prizes.

ArtFields began in 2013. The festival spans a week in the center of Lake City, starting this year on Friday, April 26.

More than $145,000 in cash prizes are up for grabs. Visitors cast their ballots to select winners for the People’s Choice Awards. And a panel of industry professionals chooses recipients of the $25,000 second-place prize and $50,000 grand prize.

The Darla Moore Foundation sponsors ArtFields. 

Harry Lesesne, Darla Moore Foundation’s director, told reception attendees about the importance of building city-to-city partnerships. He encouraged the community to take an active interest in this year’s competition.

“Part of what we’re trying to do here, in addition to creating energy and excitement here at 701, is (to) show off our collection,” Lesesne said.

Shea Johnson is a Black artist and 701 CCA volunteer. She said the event amplifies those who have been historically underrepresented.

“What we’re doing, whether it’s art, whether it’s journalism, somebody was praying to be able to have their voice heard,” Johnson said. “That kind of made me take it a little bit more seriously.”

“I’m going to go home and write a poem about it,” Johnson said.

The collection inspired other creatives and visitors alike.

The space wasn’t exclusive to seasoned enthusiasts. It exposed the uninitiated to new sorts of work, said ArtFields Fine Arts Manager Kyle C. Coleman.

Coleman has been with ArtFields for five years. The work allows him to collaborate with artists personally.

“If you kind of want to see that mirror of what (other) artists are doing, what they’re producing, definitely go to a gallery,” Coleman said.

Gypsye Legge, a Columbia-area stagehand, has never been to ArtFields. She attended the Columbia event to show her support.

“I definitely feel a distinct admiration,” Legge said. “And separate from that, an appreciation for the artisanal effort that has gone into these pieces.”

This Lake City festival is designed to help creatives explore artistic endeavors and present their work to a wider audience.

“I had never seen any of these artists or any of their work before – art that’s kind of close to home,” USC junior media arts major Fiona Schreier said.

“If you kind of want to see that mirror of what (other) artists are doing, what they’re producing, definitely go to a gallery,” said Kyle C. Coleman, ArtFields’ fine arts manager.


Artists can use Artfields, which shows works from 12 states, to present their work to a larger audience and explore different artistic interests.

Not just seasoned enthusiasts are welcomed to view the work. ArtFields’ Fine Arts Manager Kyle C. Coleman said that the organization introduces new types of work to those not familiar with them.

The ArtFields collection inspired other creatives and visitors alike at Columbia’s 701 Center for Contemporary Art.

Artists: Melvin Toledo, Jim Arendt, Alexi Torres, Noah James Saunders, Nick Botkin, Charles Clary


Shamariah Vanderhorst

Shamariah Vanderhorst

Vanderhorst is a junior at the University of South Carolina, double-majoring in journalism and English literature. She’s an opinion writer for the Daily Gamecock. In her spare time, she teaches English and studies Korean.

Alexandra Tudor

Alexandra Tudor

Tudor is a senior journalism major at the University of South Carolina. She has worked in corporate communications in Switzerland and the United States. Tudor is interested in politics and aspires to be an investigative political reporter.