Spotlight on Local Art 3

Patricia Sabree Shares Her Charleston Culture with South End

Patricia Sabree, an international authentic Gullah artist, always knew she wanted to be an artist so deciding to attend college to become an art teacher was easy..

However, after working as an art teacher for over 20 years, it wasn’t easy for her to finally listen to her spirit, to pursue her dreams of teaching art, specifically the Gullah culture, on a global level.

The Gullah people are noted for various forms of art, including basket weaving, quilting, visual arts and writing.

“The most cherishing form of art, of course, were the basket weavings because it had so many different uses for the Gullah community,” says Sabree.

Many artists, at some point in their careers, will use inspiration from events, people, experiences, among other various things, in an effort to create artwork, however, many are not creating the pieces solely to preserve their culture.

Sabree does not fit into this category; the main purpose of her creating breathtaking pieces is to preserve the Gullah culture, a combination of West Africa and the South.

There are not many authentic Gullah artists who have made the decision to preserve the Gullah culture. Sabree is aware of this fact so she encourages other Gullah artists to create artwork that will help with preserving the culture.

“We’re in scarcity and so my goal is to preserve the culture and encourage others to preserve it as well in a different art form and to pay homage to their ancestors for paving the way for them to have a better life because had it not been for them we wouldn’t be able to have some of the things that we now have today, the freedom to pursue your dreams,” she says.

Sabree loves to use acrylic paint and an assemblage of items, such as cotton, pine cones, real moss, feathers and man-made flowers to create her paintings.

“It’s a way for me to also connect with the materials that are found in nature that I remembered growing up with and it’s also a way for me to incorporate that three-dimensional aspect.”

Her creative paintings will give you great insight on what it truly means to be Gullah; they reveal what she experienced being on the farm with her siblings while living in the Gullah community.

The international artist’s paintings are so popular that even celebrities stop by her location in Savannah, GA to purchase her items; she not only sells paintings, she also sells other items, including greeting cards, note cards and cell phone covers.

Sabree feels her customers are spiritually drawn to her pieces and has witnessed many of her customers get extremely emotional when they walk into her gallery and take notice of her inspiring pieces.

“The Gullah people, we are spiritually connected and so the pieces I create have spiritual healing.”

One of Sabree’s most rewarding experiences was when she gave an original piece called Driven to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first African female President of Liberia and the first African female Head of State in Africa; the painting is of a little is swinging on a tire and since Liberia is known for its rubber, which is used to make tires that are placed on vehicles, the tire symbolizes being driven.

Sabree feels it was only befitting to give her the painting since Liberia is one of between 600 and 700 tribes were the Gullah culture is derived and since one of Sirleaf’s most noticeable attributes is that she is driven to be successful in her endeavors.

The well-known artist also has local residents who admire her original artwork, some of whom have been supporting her several years.

Cyndee McClain, a Ballantyne resident, has been purchasing Sabree’s artwork for about two years and, as of today, has already collected about 15 of her pieces.

McClain has had the opportunity to learn a lot about the Gullah culture through Sabree as well as from her paintings.

She feels her pieces are unique and inspiring and continues to be impressed with her works.

“I like the color.  I like the depth and the dimension that she puts into her paintings.  I like that the more I look at them the more detail I can see and I find things that I haven’t seen before…”

McClain has numerous favorite paintings that were created by Sabree; two of the paintings are Hope and A Version of Self.

Sabree created Hope to symbolize having hope for the future as well as whenever we are going through situations and we can’t see our way through them. As long as we have a belief system in place anything is possible.

In addition, Sabree created A Version of Self to symbolize there are many different facets to make up a person.

There was actually an African woman named Oshun (pronounced as ocean) and she was a queen and whenever she would go around water it was as though the water was obeying her presence in essence, says Sabree.

She added, we are at our best when we do the things that we are most passionate about and certain people can bring out the best and worst in us so A Version of Self is just one facet of herself where she feels she is at her best whenever she is near water because the water brings about a certain sense of solace and serenity.

I like the Hope painting because it is of a child who is looking out the window at two birds with her arms raised as though she is in prayer and hoping, McClain says.

She went on to say, “I like A Version of Self because of the background, the beautiful figure of a woman and because the picture has a lot of depth.

Sabree’s pieces are in nearly 20 different galleries and museums all over the world and she is very selective about the placement of her artwork.

“As an artist you will not be taken very seriously if your artwork is just any and everywhere”, she says.

To learn more about Sabree, visit