Unless you’re a first-time reader, you are likely familiar with our Reverend Pinckney Scholars Program —created in response to the Mother Emanuel Church shooting. This program aims to increase access to higher education for African American students in Beaufort, Charleston, and Jasper counties. Now in its third year and 30 scholars strong, this program’s inspiring students continue to excel in the classroom and contribute meaningfully to their communities. Fueled by ambition and the legacy of this program’s namesake, their commitment to excellence does not stop when the school year ends.
This back-to-school blog series will allow readers a first-person glimpse into the exciting summer work and travels of our Pinckney Scholars.
From Denzel Wright, Class of 2016 Pinckney Scholar: My Trip to Sweden
Traveling abroad has been something that I’ve always wanted to experience but was too afraid to do. I thought that I was too immature during college to even consider leaving the country for the first time, but that all changed once I met Professor Steve Johnson. After declaring Studio Art as my major and taking his Drawing I course, I realized that I had potential to grow with art. With this realization came a second one—that all I needed was structure and discipline to hone my understanding of this craft. As soon as I thought about that, studying abroad became an avenue I was eager to explore.
While at College of Charleston during the school year, Professor Johnson’s course gave me the tools I needed to branch off into my desired mediums. While I was doing research on summer programs abroad, he told me about a program he was leading in Sweden where he would teach a Drawing II course and another course on Watercolor painting. After hearing about this, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. Next thing I knew, I was on a plane to Sweden.
It was a very long 36 hours of traveling but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. During those hours, that I got to know the eight other people that I was going to live with for the next month. Ever since the awakening of my artistic side, I hadn’t found my tribe—people who really shared my interests. So, I didn’t have people to call on when I felt discouraged. For this reason, I’m all the more grateful and thankful for the relationships I’ve created with this group. In our time spent together, we did many silly things—but with this time also grew a strong shared energy and support of one another. These women taught me to be inspired, to be patient, to express myself and most importantly they taught me to appreciate my art according to my standards and no one else’s.
I associate so many memories with the beautiful barn house that we called home during this trip. A favorite was getting to know our hostess’ granddaughter, Frida. Anne Bodil (our B&B host) told us how Frida loved to draw on things and within our first few days there, we discovered a drawing on the front door of the house. We didn’t think much of it at the time. It wasn’t until the end of our stay that Anne explained the drawing was a map of the village to help us get around. It was one of the most heartfelt moments of the trip. None of us expected to find that much meaning in a simple drawing. In the flurry of it all, we forgot to take a photograph of this drawing, but we will always remember what Frida did for us.
The tiny village where we stayed was named Fröskog. It is made up of about 200 residents and the town center was called Not Quite. Fröskog is the sight of an old paper factory that was renovated to create studio space for local artists. There was also a small grocery store, bakery, café, art store and book store in this small town center. During our trip, we would bike a mile to get to Not Quite whenever we needed a snack from the café or if we just wanted to explore. Some of our class assignments happened inside of the old factory, where some things were still left untouched. By working inside the bones of the old factory, we were given an opportunity to imagine what it would have looked like for people working there years before.
I drew more from this experience than learning new techniques to employ when making art. The beginning stages of planning my trip abroad made me nervous, but I now know there’s a world out there that’s worth exploring.