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Down Bohicket Road

An Artist's Journey

Mary Whyte

Publication Year: 2012

Artist Mary Whyte’s Down Bohicket Road includes two decades worth of watercolors—depicting a select group of Gullah women of Johns Island, South Carolina, and their stories. In 1991, following Whyte’s recovery from a year of treatment for cancer, she and her husband moved to a small sea island near Charleston, seeking a new home where they could reinvent themselves far removed from the hectic pace of Philadelphia. In this remote corner of the South, Whyte first met Alfreda LaBoard and her devoted group of seniors who gathered weekly to make quilts, study the Bible, and socialize in a small rural church on Bohicket Road. Descendants of lowcountry slaves, these longtime residents of the island influenced Whyte’s life and art in astonishing and unexpected ways. Whyte soon began a series of watercolors depicting these women, honoring their lives and their dedication to family and faith. As her friendships with these women grew, their matriarch Alfreda LaBoard claimed Whyte as her “vanilla sister.” Alfreda’s World, a collection of Whyte’s detailed watercolors and poignant recollections of the women at the senior center, was published a decade later, drawing attention and support from the community to the small church on Bohicket Road. Down Bohicket Road continues the story of Whyte’s relationship with these extraordinary women, following the passing of Alfreda, against the backdrop of the ongoing commercial development of Johns Island. For Whyte, the heart of this community remains in the simple homes clustered along Bohicket Road, in the island’s winding tidal creeks, and in a small church where eighteen hardscrabble women gather in fellowship each week. In her book Whyte illustrates that both watercolors and friendships can be the unpredictable results of an abundance of blessings. As shared through touching words and vibrant paintings, Down Bohicket Road celebrates a unique way of coastal life and a remarkable friendship that transcends all barriers—even death itself—in praise of the unifying power of art.

Published by: University of South Carolina Press


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pp. 1-7


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pp. vii-9

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pp. ix-xi

The first professional woman artist in America immigrated to Charles Towne colony from Ireland in 1708. Henrietta Johnston drew small portraits of her relatives and neighbors to augment the meager salary of her husband, who was an early rector of St. Philip’s Episcopal Church. Through these intimate, beautifully executed, now-rare pastels, we can gaze upon the likenesses she created and...

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pp. 1-6

There is a twelve-mile road on Johns Island in South Carolina that makes its way toward the ocean, and, under a full moon, it turns the color of an oyster shell. The road passes beneath the shadows of giant oak limbs as thick as barrels and past swayback produce stands and small wooden churches. Beyond the trees the ribbon of a creek lies in cut lengths behind the rectangular shapes of trailer...

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The Paintings

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pp. 7-132

The first time I met the women of the Hebron Saint Francis Center was just a few months after my husband and I had moved to the low country. I was planning to teach a class on figure painting, and I was looking for interesting models to paint. A friend told me that on Wednesdays I might find some local Gullah...

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pp. 133-147

I am grateful to many people for their expertise in showcasing my work and for contributing to this book, including Katie Lindler, Marilynn McMillan, and Croft Lane of Coleman Fine Art, as well as Jane O’Boyle, Alphonso Brown, and the dedicated staff at the University of South Carolina Press....


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pp. 135-137

E-ISBN-13: 9781611171853
Print-ISBN-13: 9781611171013

Page Count: 152
Publication Year: 2012

OCLC Number: 812911912
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Down Bohicket Road