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Art in the Garden

The South Carolina Botanical Garden is truly a place "where nature and culture meet." The Garden is a resource for South Carolina artists, musicians and performers, as well as internationally known sculptors. The Fran Hanson Visitor's Center houses a permanent collection of paintings by South Carolina native Elizabeth Belser Fuller, as well as the Featured Artists Gallery showcasing a rotating selection of local artisans. The world-renowned Nature-based Sculpture program features installations that can be found throughout the Garden grounds.

The city of Clemson offers two other art galleries in addition to the Garden's. Please consider also visiting:

The Lee Gallery (www.clemson.edu/LeeGallery)

arts center

Featured Artists Gallery


The Featured Artist Gallery (also known as the Fuller Galleries) in the Fran Hanson Visitor's Center showcases a rotating collection of artwork by artisans inspired by the materials, nature and beauty of the Upstate. Up to six artists at a time, all connected to the Upstate area, showcase their work together.  At least one new artist rotates into the collection each month, so there's always something new to see.  Artwork ranging from paintings to ceramics, baskets to photography, are available for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the South Carolina Botanical Garden.

The Gallery encompasses two bedrooms and a hallway of the former Southern Living Wren House. Paintings are hung among windows overlooking the manicured lawns and sweeping meadows of the Botanical Garden and around the oversized tiled fireplace.

The Gallery is open every day, 10:00am to 5:00pm (closed University holidays and home football Saturdays). Admission is free. 

To be considered as a featured artist, send your name, photos of your work, artist's statement and bio to scbg@clemson.edu. Preference will be given to artists living in or from Upstate South Carolina, as well as to work inspired by nature.


Featured Artists Gallery

Mac Tippins
Mac Tippins

The main thrust of Mac Tippins' landscape photography is to support the preservation of public lands: National Forests, National Monuments, National Wildlife Refuge, State Parks, State Forests, local parks, and related public lands and waters. Tippins' goal is to help raise awareness of the critical need to protect these public lands. While not all of Tippins' images displayed in this gallery are of public lands, most are.

Mac Tippins is a graduate of Georgia Tech, a veteran of over 250 air combat missions in Vietnam, a retired airline captain, an aviation writer, and a long-time photographer. For the past eight years, Tippins has traveled west to work "Fire Season" in US Forest Service fire lookout towers. He departed South Carolina in mid-March 2016 and drove to Arizona to staff Lemmon Rock Lookout in the Wilderness of Rocks of the Coronado National Forest (his third fire season at Lemmon Rock). He worked five fire seasons at East Butte Fire Lookout in the Deschutes National Forest in Oregon.

Mac Tippins' photography has won numerous awards. In 2014, he joined an Arizona Public Media team in the production of a documentary on wildland fire detection for PBS. For that photographic effort, Tippins and AZPM won a Rocky Mountin Region Emmy in October 2015.

Tippins can be contacted by email at wmptippins@gmail.com. Visit his website for more information.

Past Artists

Deana Chavis Baker - www.deanabaker.com
Carol Clarkson - www.carolclarksonpottery.com
Jan Galusza- www.watercolorsbyjan.com 
Patti Connor-Greene - www.linvilleriverpottery.com
Jessica Erin Bowers
Suzanne Figliola
Rob Silance
 -
 photos
Deborah Pagano - collage
Sarah Johnson -  pottery
Chris Troy - http://www.visitsoutherncomfort.com/potdecyetfun.html
Erin Carroll- art
J.P. Tousignant- collage
Keith Spencer - oil painting
Robbie Bell - oil painting
Marie Gruber - photography
Guy Stevens - oil painting
Del Kimbler
 - photography
Dale Cochran
 - oil painting
Bob Doster 
- sculpture
Lane Owen
  watercolor
Deana Chavis Baker visual arts
Easton Selby - nature photography
David S McCurry
, EdD, DS McCurry Fine Arts Studio
Tatjana Mai-Wyss
 - watercolors and gouache
Patti Brady
 – acrylics ("Loop de Loop" at right)
Kent Ambler
 – woodcut and linocut prints
Denise Detrich - sculpture and pottery
Amy Holmes George
 - photographer
Terry Jarrard-Dimond
  - quiltmaker
Connie Lippert
 – wedge-weave tapestries with hand-dyed yarn
Clay Bolt
 – wildlife photography
Bruce Schlein – digital nature photography
Lynn Greer – watercolors
Warner Hyde
 – living orchids in ceramic sculptures
Linda Fraser – botanical art 


The Fuller Gallery

Image result for elizabeth belser fuller clemson Image result for fuller gallery clemson
The Fuller Gallery features a collection of watercolors, mixed media and pen-and-ink drawings generously donated by a dear friend of the South Carolina Botanical Garden, Mrs. Elizabeth Belser Fuller. After moving to Clemson, Mrs. Fuller created flower paintings on a weekly basis, then sold her paintings and donated 100% of the profits to the Garden. Her incredible collection from a life of painting includes pieces she made from 1947 to 1992. New pieces were added in 2007 in celebration of Mrs. Fuller's 97th birthday. Mrs. Fuller passed away in January 2009, but her legacy lives on in the Garden forever.

The gallery overlooks the Elizabeth Belser Fuller Reflection Garden, which is situated in the back lawn of the Fran Hanson Visitor's Center. The windows bring the outdoors in and allow visitors to look over the meadows of the Garden, which were an inspiration to Mrs. Fuller for decades.


Nature-Based Sculpture Program

The South Carolina Botanical Garden features one of the largest collections of nature-based sculptures in the country.  The extended-ephemeral pieces were each designed on-site by international artists and built by local volunteers and students within one month. Upon completion, the pieces begin to return to nature, so while many may still be found in the Garden, others have disappeared without a trace.

Image result for crucible clemson.edu

For further information about the program and its future, or more information about current conservation of the pieces or tours, contact Angel Perkins at 864-656-3405 or perkin8@clemson.edu.

Touch the Earth Series Available on iTunesU

Several videos have been produced for eTV showcasing the sculptures, their construction and the artists. To download and view the Touch the Earth video series, visit the South Carolina Botanical Garden's page on Clemson's iTunesU. First, visit Clemson's portal for iTunesU at www.clemson.edu/itunesu/index.html. Click on the button to Log In No ID Required. Once on Clemson's iTunesU page, click on the butterfly graphic to access the South Carolina Botanical Garden's page.

Help us Write the Book

Several Clemson staff members are working to compile a book about the nature-based sculpture program in the SCBG. They are seeking memories, experiences or photos from anyone who has visited, interacted with or helped build any of the sculptures.  If you have any stories or photos to share, please email Dylan Wolfe at dwolfe@clemson.edu.  Thank you!


About the Nature-Based Sculpture Program

How are artists selected?

Participating artists recommend respected peers based on their body-of-work and compatibility with the vision of the Garden's sculpture program. From these recommendations, an interdisciplinary collaborative considers how each artist might impact the program's vision, cultural diversity, academic interest and community interest. From these discussions, the artist who is considered to offer the most appropriate creative influence at that time is extended an invitation.

How can I contact the artists?

Contact information is available on the individual artists' pages.

What is site-specific art?

Each artist selects a site from various landscapes and habitats throughout the Garden. Once a site is selected, most artists design a work based on their impressions of the site. Occasionally, artist find sites that lends themselves to preexisting designs they have had for which they have never found an appropriate site. In both cases, the installation is generated as a result of the relationship between the site and the artist's vision. Therefore, the design is intended specifically for the selected site. As such, the installation is typically referred to as site-specific sculpture. Site-specific distinguishes this type of creative endeavor from the more typical sculptural works that are designed with no specific spatial context in mind, created in the studio and placed in either an indoor or outdoor location. Such works can be sold and relocated. Site-specific works must remain on the original site.

What is nature-based art?

Nature-based denotes that the sculptures are created from natural materials. Some artists choose to only work with materials collected from or near the site. Some artists prefer to work with material that are indigenous to the region. Others elect to use any natural materials. And, of course, some prefer to blend these elements.

What is ephemeral art?

Ephemeral means short-lived or fleeting. Consequently, ephemeral art is not permanent and suggests that its existence is dependent on the effects of time. Typically, ephemeral artworks are constructed for the hours, days or weeks of a particular art show. Longer-lived ephemeral sculptures may include documenting the degradation over time from the effects of weather and other physical impacts. In all ephemeral circumstances, the degenerative processes witnessed over time are acknowledged.

What is extended-ephemeral art?

Extended-ephemeral is a term adopted specifically to distinguish works that, while impermanent, are intended to have an unusually longer lifespan than traditional nature-based pieces. At the South Carolina Botanical Garden this is accomplished by working with artists who specialize in or who are willing to work with durable materials (e.g. rock, rammed earth, soil placement, etc.) and/or by incorporating living plant materials (trees, shrubs, vines, etc.) into the design. Also, the Garden's horticultural staff assists artists in selecting plant materials that will accomplish the intent. In this context, the extended-ephemeral concept allows the sculpture to evolve as the selected plant materials grow and the degradable elements decline. This creates a unique opportunity for the artist to envision not only an original sculptural design but to also envision the eventual outcome based on familiarity of the growth-habit of the selected plant materials. As such, the ephemeral aspects of nature-based works are extended for years or decades by cultivating a 'living proposition' of that which the artist originally intended.

What is experiential art?

The final defining characteristic of the South Carolina Botanical Garden's sculpture program is that it intends to create spaces, as well as objects. Allowing the viewer to experience the sculpture by entering its space allows the viewer to become an integral part of the work. As such, the meaning and/or purpose of each piece is determined by the individuals experience. The term chosen to denote ascribing meaning or purpose through one's experience of an object through intimate connection with its space is 'experiential.'

How can I find the sculptures?

Directions to The South Carolina Botanical Garden are available here. While visiting the Garden, maps locating many of the sculpture sites can be obtained at the kiosk near the Cadet Life Garden and at the Fran Hanson Visitor's Center. Guided tours are available through advanced reservation only. Tours of the sculptures are available. For more details and to make a reservation, call the Visitors' Services desk at 864-656-3405.

Why aren't there signs identifying and interpreting each piece?

While it may be easier to find the pieces if they were clearly marked, the sculpture program does not intend to present works in a traditional 'quick find' gallery fashion. As a 295-acre public garden with approximately half of its acreage designated as a nature preserve, the majority of participating artists and program administrators agree that the sculptures should be discovered, 'happened upon,' to accentuate their presentation in a natural setting. Consequently, there are no signs to guide one to a sculpture site. Locating sculptures must be done either with a pioneering spirit, with the assistance of a map or by reserving a tour. Lastly, since each individual's experience of a work ascribes its meaning or purpose, there is no need for interpreting the artist's intent. The only commentary offered is the artists' statements located on the artists' webpages.

How are the sculptures maintained?

The Garden staff collaborates with community volunteers to maintain the original intent of each sculpture throughout its lifespan. Most natural elements of a work degrade relatively slowly. Such decline is most often accepted as a natural part of the work's maturation. Whenever there is significant decline in a work, the artist's input is solicited. By far, human impact is the most significant maintenance issue.

What is the human impact on the sculptures?

As a public garden, many people visit each day and human impact is accumulative. When visiting the sculpture sites, please keep in mind that it is the sculptural space that is intended to be visited. It is important that these original creative works be honored and respected by not climbing on the structures.

How do sculptures mature?

Every consideration is given to sustain as much of the original sculpture and the artist's original vision as possible. Program administrators consult with the creating artist when any major decision needs to be made concerning the future of a work. In some cases, works are altered to bolster longevity. In others, they are allowed to naturally decay and return to the earth without interruption. On occasions, major elements of a sculpture are removed when the natural integrity is lost. If the various elements decline and grow with timely integration, the plant materials will evolve into a sustainable 'living impression' of the artist's original proposition. However, sometimes element integration is not timely. At such junctures, it is necessary to determine whether or not the remaining elements can be nurtured to recovery or whether they can no longer sustain the artist's original vision. When the latter is determined, the remaining elements will either be removed or left as a possible foundation for a future artist.

How did the program begin?

The idea originated with Program Facilitator, Ernie Denny. One night he had a dream about people interacting with sculptures instead of observing them from a distance. When he shared his vision with Botanical Garden Director, Dr. John Kelly, the seed that has become the Nature-Based Sculpture Program was planted. While Dr. Kelly supported the concept, there were no dollars to hire a staff. Consequently, interested horticulturists, educators, administrators and artists—all of whom had other full-time responsibilities—came together to implement the program.

Where did the idea for "extended ephemeral" originate?

Extending the ephemeral nature of sculptures composed of impermanent materials was primarily a practical decision. Since artist and installation fees are the same regardless of the lifespan of the piece, the longer the sculpture "lives" the more economical it becomes. Further, an extended lifespan allows more Garden visitors to experience each sculpture.


Sculptures & Artists

Image result for chameleon meadow clemson A Chameleon Meadow - In Praise of Shadows by Yvette Dede & Hiroko Inoue, 2007

Image result for earthen bridge clemson Earthen Bridge Reconstructed by Brian Rust, 2006

Image result for clemson clay nest Clemson Clay Nest by Nils-Udo, 2005

Image result for crucibulum evolution clemson Crucible: Crucibulum Evolutum by Herb Parker, 2004

Image result for the devotion of the sunflower clemson The Devotion of the Sunflower by Yolanda Gutiérrez, 2003

Image result for time capsule clemson Time Capsule by Chris Drury, 2002

Image result for spittin image clemson Spittin' Image by Patrick Dougherty, 2001

Image result for ochun clemson Ochun by Martha Jackson-Jarvis, 2000

Image result for impressions of lost life clemson Impressions of Lost Life by Kathleen Gilrain, 2000

Image result for the space in between clemson The Space In Between by Trudi Entwistle, 2000

Image result for invisible operations clemson Invisible Operations by Karen McCoy, 1999

Image result for stream path clemson Stream Path by Bararit & Bruni, 1998

Image result for natural dialogue clemson by alfio Natural Dialogue by Alfio Bonanno, 1997

Image result for earthen bridge reconstructed Earthen Bridge by Brian Rust, 1996

Image result for sittin pretty clemson Sittin' Pretty by Patrick Dougherty, 1996

Image result for crucible clemson.eduCrucible by Herb Parker, 1995