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Edith Hardaway’s ‘Textile Impressions’ series honors Greenville’s textile heritage

Edith McBee Hardaway grew up in South Carolina’s Upstate but knew very little about the mill communities that hummed just a few miles from her home.

Today, Hardaway is passionate about telling the stories of those who helped put Greenville on the map as the Textile Capital of the World – through her art.

“My mill series truly happened by accident,” Hardaway explains. “About seven years ago, I turned off Church Street and realized I was driving through a mill community that I had never paid any attention to. I had been living in the shadows of these communities all my life and realized I had no idea about them.”

To educate herself about the region’s textile past, Hardaway contacted members of the Greenville Textile Heritage Society. She read, researched and even drove Greenville’s Textile Crescent – the pathway along which were 16 cotton mills and two dye/bleaching/processing mills whose geographic locations created a crescent shape.

“I started collecting images and making a digital collection,” Hardaway said, “then, people started giving me old newspaper clippings, maps, company store coupons, pay packets, job descriptions, wage cards, even old coins from the company stores.”

Inspired by the images and artifacts of this bygone era, Hardaway began creating vibrant works of art that pay homage to an industry that once was the economic engine for the entire state of South Carolina.

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“I am deeply influenced by my surroundings,” Hardaway says in her artist’s statement. “The Greenville skyline and the Piedmont’s textile heritage fascinate me. Everywhere I go, I view the environment through an artistic perspective and try to see things in a different way. I notice colors, contrasts, angles, and light, which all serve as inspiration for my paintings.”

Hardaway’s work is realistic abstract. She begins by pouring paint on canvas or paper and using whatever is at hand to produce textures and form. She uses various mediums – rice paper, plastic wrap, sand, glass, charcoal, ink, oil paint or acrylics – to achieve the desired results.

Her “Spinner” mixed media, for example, incorporates a rice paper image of a young worker from Greenville’s Dunean Mill, along with a map of the mill community, company rules, a pay stub and Dunean Store coupons.

Hardaway’s mill series, which consists of 25 or 30 works, has been displayed at special events and galleries across the Upstate. A portion of the series is on permanent display at Artists Guild Gallery of Greenville, a co-operative gallery on North Main Street downtown, where Hardaway is a co-owner.

Established 13 years ago, Artists Guild Gallery of Greenville is the city’s oldest co-op gallery and represents 18 award-winning artists. Located in the former Ivey’s Department Store (in the lingerie department to be precise), the 2,000-square-foot gallery features work in a variety of media, along with a gift store that offers custom jewelry, glass, metalwork, woodwork, pottery and sculptures.

Want to go?

Artists Guild Gallery of Greenville, 200 N. Main Street, Suite 104, Greenville, SC 29601, (864) 239-3882

Gallery hours: Tuesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m. until 5 p.m.

See the works of Edith McBee Hardaway online at edithmcbeehardaway.com or visit Artists Guild Gallery of Greenville at artistsguildgalleryofgreenville.com

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