by Marquel Coaxum, Assistant Communications Manager
MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (Jan. 8, 2019) – The Town of Mount Pleasant recently updated the usage policy for one of its most historically-significant venues.
Beginning in January, the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Pavilion, located at the Mount Pleasant Waterfront Park, will be open to any East of the Cooper basket maker, free of charge, on a first-come, first-served basis.
“We are excited to open up the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Pavilion to the many sweetgrass basket makers East of the Cooper,” said Mount Pleasant Town Administrator Eric DeMoura. “We recognize the significance of this beautiful art form in the history of Mount Pleasant, and we’re happy to create more availability for local artisans to be able to display and sell their creations.”
The Sweetgrass Legacy
A historically significant example of African cultural heritage, the sweetgrass basket-making tradition in the Lowcountry dates back to the late 17th century where the first known baskets in the Lowcountry were fanner baskets used for winnowing rice.
Originally designed as a tool of rice production and processing, baskets had a significant cultural connection for displaced Africans. The baskets were used in the planting and harvesting of coastal money crops such as rice and cotton among other things.
After the 1890’s, sweetgrass baskets began to evolve from agricultural implements to household items. Sweetgrass, a softer, finer straw, replaced bulrush as the primary material, long leaf pine needles were added for contrast, and palmetto replaced split oak as binders. Basket making continued at locations such as Mount Pleasant’s Boone Hall Plantation even after slavery ended.
Our Investment in History
The Town opened the SCAP in 2009 as a tribute to the generations of men and women who have carried on the Lowcountry basket tradition for more than 300 years. Today, sweetgrass basket weaving remains an integral piece of the cultural fabric of Mount Pleasant.
Opening the pavilion free of charge was an integral step in making sure the tradition lives on for years to come.
“This is a wonderful way for Mount Pleasant to preserve such a significant piece of history of our community,” DeMoura said. “This piece of our story is important and we want to ensure that we continue writing another chapter.”
For details on the usage changes at the Sweetgrass Cultural Arts Pavilion visit us here.