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Picturing a World

Elizabeth O'Neill Verner

What we see is partly a result of what we are taught to see. Elizabeth O'Neill Verner must have encountered the kind of 19th C paintings of flower sellers that have been the topic at It’s About Time in recent weeks. My guess is that familiarity with the motif contributed to her noticing and championing the flower sellers and basket weavers in her own town of Charleston, S.C. A move was afoot in the early 20th C to have these African-American vendors banned from the street, but Verner led the effort to allow them to carry on their trade. She became a preservationist, and the pictures she drew, etched, and painted of Charleston to sell to tourists greatly influenced the way the city has been perceived ever since.

Dancers and athletes show us what the human body can do. Painters and photographers teach us how to study the world and the human face. Writers supply the words, the narratives, the stories, that tell us where we fit in. And in our broken, anxious, dangerous world, don’t we need all the creativity that artists of every kind at every level of achievement can bring to us! Just the act of gathering flowers or weaving a basket can give a lift of the heart to someone else.

For more of Verner’s work, click here.

For the brief Wikipedia biography, click here.

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