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Try This: Visit the “Flight” exhibit at Aiken-Rhett House Museum

Explore this historic 19th-century house in Charleston.

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Tatum here. I recently visited the new art exhibit at the Aiken-Rhett House Museum downtown. “FLIGHT” opened on September 29, 2022, and tells the stories of enslaved people who lived and worked in the Aiken-Rhett House prior to the Civil War. Men and women who were enslaved at this time were forced to work as carriage drivers, cooks, laundresses, footmen, housekeepers, and more.

The exhibit, which runs through Sun., Nov. 27, was created by local master dyer + environmental artist Mary Edna Fraser. Keep reading to find out how you can Try This.

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Silks draped through rooms suggest the spirits of the lost.

Photo by CHStoday

What we tried:

As I toured the home, I spotted oil paintings and batik silks. The paintings portray the landscapes that enslaved men and women traveled along seeking freedom, and the draped silks suggest the spirits of those who were lost and voiceless.

On the back lot is where they worked and lived. There are two outbuildings with sleeping quarters, one is a preserved carriage and stable house and the other contains the kitchen and laundry areas. There is where I read poems by Marjory Wentworth and J. Drew Lanham, which convey the poignancy of these spaces.

What not to miss:

This temporary installation is site-specific, meaning the exhibit will never be replicated or presented in a space like this again. Another interesting aspect of this experience is that the house is preserved-as-found, rather than restored, providing a glimpse into life and architecture of the early 19th century.

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The enslaved quarters feature their original paint, floors, and fixtures.

Photo by CHStoday

What we’re still talking about:

Not only can you experience the art, you can buy it. Half of all profit from the exhibit’s art sales will go to the Center for Heirs Property, which preserves family land.

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“Requiem for Rice” by Marjory Wentworth is on display in the enslaved quarters.

Photo by CHStoday

How you can experience this:

Visitors can view “FLIGHT” at the Aiken-Rhett House now through Sun., Nov. 27. The exhibit is included with museum admission — visit the tickets page.

iPods + headphones are available for visitors to take a self-guided audio tour. The Historic Charleston Foundation app also provides additional information on the exhibit during the tour.

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This oil painting by Mary Edna Fraser reflects the Lowcountry landscape.

Photo by CHStoday

Things to know if you go:

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