Upon entering the gallery, visitors are greeted by bold, brilliant colors that spill out of the canvases and consume the senses. Even the smell of a salty Carolina coastline seems to be emitted by the paintings.
Each work features a different scene in which love and family seem to be the central focus. The exhibit’s featured work, entitled “Oh Chick”, is a combination of eye-catching patterns and colors. The painting also features her distinctive work of incorporating different textures, like corn and feathers, into her art. This gives the painting even more life with a 3D effect.
Sitting to the bottom right of the painting was the artist herself, Patricia E. Sabree. Widely known as Sabree, she is a Nationally Acclaimed Authentic Gullah artist.
Sabree explains, “I was raised in the culture, this is my legacy. I am part of the land, the land is a part of me, so when I create a picture it is an extension of Gullah culture.”
Gullah Geechee culture spans back to the 1800s, where freed slaves would gather along the coast and coastal islands in small farming communities. They usually participated in sharecropping, growing everything under the sun.
Sabree shares her childhood experiences on the farm, “All of my youth we did the farming. We raised tobacco, cotton, corn, cucumbers you name it!”
These coastal Gullah communities stretched from North Carolina to St. John’s Florida, and as deep as 30 miles inland. In fact, the Low Country area itself is deeply enriched with Gullah culture. This part of Savannah’s heritage often times seems to go unacknowledged.
Sabree is passionate about the importance of ancestry and self-worth. Being one of fifteen children, Sabree shares how many of her paintings tell of childhood memories. Others portray values that were bestowed upon her through spending time with her extensive family.
Beginning her career as a high school art teacher, Sabree was driven to step outside of education to enable herself to share her legacy with the general public.
“You’ve got to know your history, that’s why a lot of African-American kids, they just don’t understand how important they are,” Sabree said. “The culture is so rich and there is so much story telling into it.”
Sabree draws much of her inspiration for her works from the relationship she had with her mother. In turn, she works closely with her daughters, who are also impassioned with the ideals of Gullah culture. With prints starting at fifteen dollars, Sabree has works affordable for all budgets. Her gallery is located on the second floor of the City Market Art Center Studios, 219 W Bryan St.
Though Sabree’s Gallery of the Arts is open daily until 6pm, her work can be accessed anytime at www.sabreesgallery.com.