Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, SC, Announces 2014 Mary Whyte Art Educator Award


The Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, SC, is pleased to announce Donna Shank Major as this year’s recipient of the annual Mary Whyte Art Educator Award. Established in 2007, this award is designed to highlight a high school visual art teacher in South Carolina school districts who has demonstrated superior commitment to their students and to their craft. The award is accompanied by a cash prize of $2,500 and is administered and presented annually by the Gibbes Museum of Art. The winner was announced at the South Carolina Art Educators Association annual meeting in Greenville, SC, on Nov. 21, 2014. “Mary’s support of art educators in South Carolina is immeasurable. The Gibbes is honored to support the award. There are so many teachers worth recognizing and we hope they will continue to apply year after year,” says Curator of Education Rebecca Sailor.


Donna Shank Major is the instructor for 2D and 3D Design courses, teaches in the ARMES program at the Fine Arts Center, in Greenville, and serves as the Coordinator for Explore the Arts summer program. The ARMES program is a tuition-free arts program designed to meet the needs of students in grades 4 through 8 who have demonstrated outstanding talents and a deep interest in theatre, visual arts, strings or dance. Major grew up in Greenville and was an art student at Fine Arts Center for three years. She graduated from Converse College and continued studies at Converse College earning a Master’s Degree in Education. She has been teaching art for 18 years in Greenville and Spartanburg County, and works in a variety of media and techniques including clay, printmaking, painting, and bookmaking. She has received many grants, including a Fulbright Memorial Fund grant to study in Japan, and fellowships to study at Arrowmont School of Crafts and Penland. Her work has been exhibited in shows at the Art Bomb, Open Studios with the Metropolitan Arts Council, the Belton Juried Professional Show, the Anderson Art Show and the Union Juried Professional Show.

“I am so pleased to announce Donna Shank Major as this year’s recipient of the Art Educator Award. Major is an instructor at the Fine Arts Center of Greenville, and together with the other two state finalists, Josh Drews and Mary Catherine Peeples, represents the finest this state has to offer in art education. South Carolina has most definitely set the bar high in fine art instruction,” says Mary Whyte.

Watercolor artist Mary Whyte is a teacher and author whose figurative paintings have earned national recognition. A resident of Johns Island, SC, Whyte garners much of her inspiration from the Gullah descendants of coastal Carolina slaves who number among her most prominent subjects. Her portraits are included in numerous corporate, private, and university collections, as well as in the permanent collections of the Gibbes Museum of Art and the Greenville County Museum of Art. Her paintings have been featured in International Artist, Artist, American Artist, Watercolor, and American Art Collector, L’Art de Aquarelle, and numerous other publications. Whyte is the author of numerous books and her work can be found at Coleman Fine Art in Charleston, where her husband, Smith Coleman, manages the gallery and makes gilded and carved frames.

Applications for the 2015 Mary Whyte Award opened in September, 2014. For more information, please visit (

Established as the Carolina Art Association in 1858, the Gibbes Museum of Art opened its doors to the public in 1905. In the fall of 2014, the Gibbes temporarily closed for major renovations and will reopen its doors in the spring of 2016. The renovation project is designed to showcase the museum’s collection, provide visitors with a history of American art from the early colonial era to the present, and engage the public with a center for education, artist studios, lecture and event space, a museum café, and store. During the renovation the museum will offer programs such as the Insider Art Series, Art With a Twist, Art of Healing, events including the Art of Design and annual Gibbes on the Street Party, and educational offerings such as Art to Go and Eye Spy Art. Highlights of the Gibbes permanent collection can be viewed on Google Art Project at (

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