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African-American Storytelling Through Modern Art in Savannah GA: Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd

Telfair's Jepson Center "Follow the Drinkin' Gourd by Andrew Scott | Photo (c) 2012 Sandy Traub

Follow the Drinkin' Gourd by Andrew Scott at Telfair's Jepson Center in Savannah GA USA

SAVANNAH Georgia (August 7, 2012) — Last week a friend and I decided to lunch at Cafe Zeum at Telfair’s Jepson Center.  The atmosphere was refreshing and the food now on our recommended list. The outing was a home run, especially when I discovered a surprise bigger than I could have ever imagined.

Overhead was a modern art exhibit, entitled “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd,” by Andrew F. Scott, professor of Sculpture at the Savannah College of Art and Design.  I learned later that it was installed in the Jepson Center atrium on February 20, 2012, as part of the Telfair Museums’ PULSE Art and Technology Festival — an art and technology festival offering an extensive program of art installations, performances, lectures and workshops since PULSE began in 2007.

My friend Sandy Traub had seen a photo and was generally familiar with the Civil War-era stories about the Underground Railroad and the song, “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd”.  But she too was pleasantly surprised to see the modern sculpture remaining on display following the conclusion of the PULSE festival.

Surely, this contemporary art is a wonderful, fresh way to introduce a period of African American heritage — albeit America’s sad history of slavery, the Underground Railroad, and a song of freedom sung by slaves fleeing from The South to northern U.S. cities — that played out in the United States during the 1800s.

The modern sculpture is magnificent to see!   Here is a link to more photos we found posted in Flickr, which is where we obtained the narrative below.

“This digitally-produced sculpture makes reference to the American folk song “Follow the Drinkin’ Gourd.” Legend has it the song may have been used by conductors of the Underground Railroad to guide runaway slaves to freedom in the North. Scott’s work is composed of two elements suspended from the ceiling in the Jepson Center atrium. A large gourd form represents Ursula Major, the Big Dipper. The dipper points to the North Star, Polaris, shown as part of a series of globe forms representing the Little Dipper.”

I am now a believer.  I don’t want to miss another PULSE Festival!   Thank you, Professor Scott, students, and Telfair Museums.

Diane McCray, Innkeeper & Foodie
Green Palm Inn
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548 East President Street, Savannah, GA USA 31401
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Copyright (c) 2012 Sandy Traub/Green Palm Inn.

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