The South Carolina State Museum in Columbia, SC, has been the scene of fowl play. Waterfowl, that is. The museum recently received a group of original artworks used by the South Carolina Migratory Waterfowl Commission to illustrate its annual South Carolina duck stamps. The donation was made to assure the preservation and maintenance of this collection of beautiful original paintings.
The 10 oil paintings join an established collection that represents the art selected for the stamp program since 1993, according to Curator of Art Paul Matheny.
Ten oil paintings of South Carolina wild ducks have been donated to the South Carolina State Museum. They were created for the South Carolina Migratory Waterfowl Commission to illustrate its annual South Carolina duck stamp series. The paintings enlarge the collection already established by the museum and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources. Photo courtesy SC Dept of Natural Resources/ SC State Museum
Since 1981 the art has been commissioned to adorn the stamps used to grant duck hunting licenses. Half the funds derived from the sale of stamps and art prints is disbursed to a nonprofit organization for the development of waterfowl propagation projects, according to the SC Dept. of Natural Resources.
Originally a competition, the art has been obtained by contract since 2007. Each year’s stamp represents a different species, said Matheny.
Ten of the 33 paintings in the collection were done by nationally acclaimed wildlife artist Jim Killen of Minnesota, who has been named three times “International Artist of the Year” by Ducks Unlimited.
Killen also did the most recent painting, of the black duck species. The artist depicts a black duck being retrieved by a handsome Boykin spaniel, the South Carolina state dog. The 2013-14 stamp painting is the seventh in a series commissioned from Killen. The program’s first painting was done by Lee LeBlanc, and numerous other artists are represented in the collection.
The paintings are a natural fit for the State Museum because it features multiple disciplines (art, history, natural history and science), and a collection like this relates to more than one area, Matheny said. Obviously, art and natural history meet at this junction between the natural world of waterfowl and the cultural pursuit of nature’s beauty as expressed on canvas by a variety of talented artists.
Cultural history comes into the picture as well, since hunting is such an important part of the culture of the Palmetto State, and has been for centuries.
The most recent painting is included in the exhibit “This Just In: What’s New in the Collection,” a show of recently-acquired objects the museum opened Sept. 21, 2013.
“We’re very grateful to the Dept. of Natural Resources for this ongoing donation,” said Matheny. “It’s a wonderful blend of art, natural history and cultural history, and the birds themselves are among America’s most popular. The different species are both colorful and beautiful, as are the paintings.”
The museum is looking for an opportunity to display the full collection at a later date.
On Oct. 29, 1988, the South Carolina State Museum opened its doors, bringing to the citizens of the Palmetto State the newest, and one of the finest, state museums in America. The Museum has four large floors devoted to the disciplines of art, history, natural history and science/technology. It houses both long-term exhibits and changing exhibit galleries.
For more information about the museum, visit (www.scsmuseum.org) or follow @SCStateMuseum on Twitter.