American Art, Aesthetics and Experience with Dr. Leo Twiggs and Dr. Frank Martin

Is there any value in post-modern society to access artworks via the responses of trained experts ? And what do these responses tell us about ourselves and our surroundings?  Artist and Educator, Dr. Leo Twiggs and art historian and philosopher, Dr. Frank Martin are presented in conversation with cultural programmer, Derin Young (at the YouTube link above) to discuss American art and the African American aesthetic.  This historical  perspective spans decades of experiences and now examines our national consciousness.

Leo Twiggs was the first African American to receive a Doctorate in Art Education from the Mary Frances Early College of Education. He entered as a full time student in 1967 and graduated Phi Kappa Phi in 1970. 

He completed his undergraduate studies at Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with majors in Art, English and History. He continued his studies at the Art Institute of Chicago and received his MA from New York University, studying with the famed African American painter and muralist Hale Woodruff.

Twiggs was recruited to come to Georgia from SC State University in Orangeburg. At SC State, he established the first Art department and developed a nationally recognized Museum and Planetarium. He retired in 1998 and was named Professor Emeritus in 2000.

In the mid-sixties, he began experimenting with batik as a contemporary painting medium. Batik is an ancient wax and dye resist process. His unique batik paintings received international attention with exhibits at the Studio Museum and the American Crafts Museum in New York, and U.S. Embassies in Rome, Senegal and Bern, Switzerland. The Georgia Museum presented a Retrospective exhibit in 2004 and his award winning book: Messages From Home: The Art of Leo Twiggs was published in 2011. His Requiem For Mother Emanuel, a series of nine paintings about the Charleston SC killings, was featured on CBS and ESPN. Additionally, the University of South Carolina presented an Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree to him in 2013. Twiggs won the $10,000 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art in 2018 and The Larry and Brenda Thompson African American Award at the Georgia Museum of Art in 2019. He was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame in 2020.

Twiggs is married to the former Rosa Johnson and they have three sons. 

Frank C. Martin, II, is a graduate of Yale University and the City University of New York, Hunter College, with additional study in contemporary art at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, and the Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of South Carolina.  After working for more than 12 years as an Associate Manager of Education Services for the Department of Education Services in the Uris Center of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Martin transitioned to a position as Curator of Exhibitions and Collections, at South Carolina State University’s I. P. Stanback Museum & Planetarium, where Martin currently serves as Director. 

Initially trained as an art historian, theorist, and critic of cultural interpretation, Martin has served as an academic advisor for the PBS documentary, Shared History and as contributing critic in the fine arts for The Charleston Post and Courier, one of the South’s oldest newspapers.  Appointed as a Carolina Diversity Professors Doctoral Scholar in the Department of Philosophy at the University of South Carolina, Dr. Martin’s area of specialization is the study of axiology, concentrating in the field of aesthetics. A faculty member in the discipline of art history at South Carolina State University, Martin also serves as an adjunct professor of art history at the Salkehatchie and Walterboro extensions of the University of South Carolina in Allendale, and has been a guest faculty member for special topics in the Department of Art History at The College of Charleston and at Claflin University. Martin is a member of AICA, the International Association of Art Critics (Association Internationale des Critiques d’Art) based in Paris. His published projects include contributions to the Henry Louis Gates encyclopedic African American Biography, organized by Harvard University and the Oxford University Press, contributing research pertaining to American artists of the African diaspora. In 2014, Dr. Martin was designated Professor of the Year, for the School of Education, Humanities, and Social Sciences at South Carolina State University and received the distinguished Community Service Award from the international service organization, The Links Inc. in 2019. 

Derin Young is a cultural programmer, independent producer and creator of the audioPERKULATOR.