Mark Sloan doesn’t just want to hang pretty pictures on the wall.
He wants art and artists that have something to say. He wants you, the viewer, involved in the conversation. Let’s start with a deep love of the creative process and a fierce desire to share that love with the world.
Creating a place where artists are able to dig deep into their own personal visions and explore is a point of pride for him. In the twenty-plus years he’s been at the helm of The Halsey, it has grown from a small college gallery into a nationally recognized institute of contemporary art.
Grab any handful of names from the Halsey’s recent history. Nick Cave. Jasper Johns. Shepard Fairey. Jumaadi. This is not a roll call from the sedate section. This is the sound of voices shouting, hey, now, listen!
Lonnie Holley, a 63-year-old vernacular artist from Birmingham with a soul-stirring life story, is coming to the Halsey later this year, as is Brooklyn-based sculptor Alyson Shotz. A large show exploring the idea of correspondence between artists is in the works for early 2016.
“I try to build on Charleston’s strengths as a historic port city, as a crossroads for cultural exchange,” he says.
The footprint of today’s Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art is much larger than its physical space—traces of it can be found all across the globe—and that’s due in large part to Sloan’s determination and leadership.
“Charleston has always been known as a city of history,” he says. “For a long time, the art you found here reflected only that. But now, we’re reaching a critical mass of young people calling this area home who are extremely interested in contemporary art. And that’s changing everything.”
Words by: Jason A. Zwiker
Photographer: Landon Neil Phillips
Stylist: Dalia Dalili
Hair/Make-Up: Bailey Bial
Photo Assistants: Jenny Kleiman, Kayla Morrisey, Kyle Victory, Gordon Keiter, and Erica Griffiths