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S.C. Arts Commission Announces 2012 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Awards Recipients


COLUMBIA, S.C. – The South Carolina Arts Commission Board announces the 2012 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts, the highest honor the state presents in the arts. Established in 1972, the annual awards recognize outstanding achievement and contributions to the arts in South Carolina.


This year’s recipients are:


Lifetime Achievement: Dr. Lillian Quackenbush, Columbia

Individual Artist: Robert Ariail, Camden

Individual: Sam Wang, Clemson

Arts in Education: R. Scot Hockman, Columbia

Business/Foundation: The Self Foundation, Greenwood

Organization: The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, with special recognition for Mark Sloan, Charleston


“It’s one of the highlights of our year at the South Carolina Arts Commission when we recognize these outstanding members of our statewide community for their contributions to the arts,” said S.C. Arts Commission Board Chairman Dr. Sarah Lynn Hayes. “Our arts community is broad, deep and diverse, and this year’s lineup of honorees is a wonderful illustration of that. We salute and thank them for being standard-bearers for the arts.”


Awards will be presented at a Statehouse ceremony tentatively scheduled for Thursday, May 3. The S.C. Arts Foundation will honor the recipients and the arts community at the South Carolina Arts Gala on Wednesday, May 2. The gala is a fundraiser supporting the programs of the S.C. Arts Commission. For more about the Verner Awards or the S.C. Arts Gala, call (803) 734-8696 or visit


2012 Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Award Recipients


Lifetime Achievement:  Lillian Quackenbush

Dr. Lillian Quackenbush has dedicated her career to the advancement and appreciation of music, specifically choral music, in the education and lives of South Carolinians. As a performer, teacher, conductor, scholar and advocate, Quackenbush has been instrumental in the creation, performance, understanding and widespread exposure of choral music in innovative settings that engage artists and audiences beyond the expected reach of traditional choral presentations. She  earned a Bachelor of Music Education from Florida State University and a Master of Music in Vocal Performance and the Doctor of Music in choral conducting degrees from the University of South Carolina. She began her vocal teaching career at the College of Charleston in 1973, then joined the faculty of Columbia College where she served for 34 years – 11 as chair of the music department and two as faculty chair. She retired in 2009.


While her days were spent teaching music at Columbia College, her evenings and weekends have been filled with community-based choral work as the music director at several midlands-area churches and community organizations. She currently serves Shandon Presbyterian Church in Columbia, where she has been on staff for 20 years. She is artistic director and conductor of the Greater Columbia Sing-along Messiah. She has conducted the Columbia Choral Society in Charleston and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in Columbia. In 2008 she completed the first known English translations of two German oratorios, Heinrich Herzogenburg’s The Birth of Christ and Carl Frederich Graun’s The Death of Jesus and performed them with choir and orchestra.


As a singer, Quackenbush has performed leading roles with the Columbia Lyric Opera, Charleston Opera Company, community theaters, and in oratorio performances with the Columbia Choral Society, Charleston Symphony and the S.C. Philharmonic.


Dr. Quackenbush is the founder and artistic director of the Sandlapper Singers, and 30-voice professional choral ensemble. Now in its 16th year, the group presents an annual season in Columbia and travels widely throughout the state. Through the Sandlapper Singers, she has commissioned 12 new works to add to the choral canon. Most noteworthy is her collaboration with internationally known composer Libby Larson on a setting of James Dickey’s epic poem “Falling, ” which was premiered at a statewide conference funded by the Humanities Council SC, “The Poet, the Composer, the Premier: A Musical Celebration of the Poetry of James Dickey.”


The Sandlapper Singers have participated as one of the selected groups for the S.C. Arts Commission’s Participation Initiative, during which the group explored ways of using choral music to bridge racial divides. In 2006 the National Endowment for the Arts awarded the group a grant to tour and perform in underserved and poor areas of the state. Under Lillian Quackenbush’s leadership, the group has built partnerships with high school music programs to help train young singers and perform “Side by Side” with the Sandlappers. A new program, “Young Sandlapper Singers” provides music instruction for 8 to 11 year-olds with opportunities to perform in concert with the Sandlappers.


All of Lillian Quackenbush’s professional and community-based activities have been directed toward educating and training talented musicians and building interested and appreciative audiences and participants for today and for the future of choral singing.


Individual Artist:  Robert Ariail

Robert Ariail is a nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist based in Camden, S.C. From 1984 to 2009, Ariail wielded pen and ink to capture the mood and viewpoint of the day as the editorial cartoonist for The State newspaper. With his entertaining and recognizable style, Ariail provoked thought, fueled controversy and poked a little fun as a satirist, storyteller and critic. He had the knack for channeling the spirit of the state, be it pride or frustration. His art and his satire continue to be available to readers through his work at the Spartanburg Herald-Journal and in more than 600 newspapers across the nation. Ariail has also published three collections of his cartoons.


A two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, in 1995 and 2000, Ariail was the first American to win the prestigious United Nations Ranan Lurie Political Cartoon Award, triumphing over a field of more than 1,500 cartoonists from around the world in 2009. A sample of other awards include:


The National Headliner Award (1990)

The National Society of Professional Journalists’ Sigma Delta Chi Award (1992)

The Overseas Press Club’s Thomas Nast Award (1997)

The Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade Award (an eleven-state Southeastern regional competition, 1991, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2007)

The South Carolina Press Association Award for Cartooning (2007, 2010)


Says Ariail of his work: “I try to give my readers a chuckle, perhaps even a guffaw on occasion. I’d even settle for a raised eyebrow,” says Ariail. “I don't take cheap shots, but I like to make a point. I want my cartoons to say something, or at least to show the irony of a situation."


Individual: Sam Wang

Sam Wang was born in Beijing, China in 1939 and came to the United States to attend Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., where he earned his BA in art and later attended the University of Iowa earning an MFA in 1966. That year he accepted a position with the architecture faculty at Clemson University, teaching art to architecture students. He later started the first photography program taught as Fine Art in South Carolina to graduate and undergraduate students. He followed a pattern of innovation and forward thinking as an early adopter and teacher of artmaking with computers in the 1980s and, in the 1990s, implementing a program in Digital Production Arts at Clemson to prepare students for careers in digital animation. Many of his students now work with blockbuster animation studios like Dream Works and Lucas Films. After 40 years of teaching, Sam’s knowledge and aesthetics are influencing artists and photographic educators across the country.


Wang retired from Clemson University in 2006. In 2007 he received the Honored Educator recognition from the Society for Photographic Education – Southeast Region. He has been traveling to China frequently to teach, lecture and continue making photographs. In 2010, the book Sam Wang: Four Decades of Photographic Exploration was released, documenting his career of art photography and innovation.


Arts in Education: R. Scot Hockman

Scot Hockman has been a leader in South Carolina’s arts education community for more than 32 years as a middle school art teacher, as editor and writer of state standards and curriculum guides, and as the arts associate for the S.C. Department of Education. As a classroom teacher he created model lessons and approaches that

others adopted across the state. He was elected president of the S.C. Association of Arts Educators and played a

key role in the creation of the 2003 S.C. Art Standards and Curriculum Guides. At the S.C. Department of Education he has worked to maintain and improve the Arts Curricular Innovation Grants and the expansion of Summer Arts Institutes for Teachers. He has been a leader in developing academic standards for media arts and other tools which have helped improve arts education for students in South Carolina and have brought positive national recognition to the Palmetto State. Numerous national organizations have tapped Scot’s expertise to inform nationwide programs and decision-making, including the Kennedy Center, U.S. Department of Education, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, States Education Agencies Directors of Arts Education,

National Coalition for Core Arts Standards and the Arkansas Arts Council.


Business/Foundation:  The Self Family Foundation

The Self Family Foundation was established in 1942 by James C. Self, the founder of Greenwood Mills, to build Self Memorial Hospital in Greenwood, S.C. Over the years, the mission expanded to include education and, for the last 20 years, has included arts and culture.


The SFF has played a major role in the development of the arts, culture and history of the region, including providing the seed money to establish the Greenwood Arts Council in 1995 and additional support in 1997 to hire professional staff. The foundation awarded grants to support assessments, feasibility studies, planning and renovations that ultimately led to the development of a new arts center in the vacated Federal Building, anchoring a revitalized and thriving arts district in Greenwood, the “Emerald Triangle,” that also includes The Museum and Greenwood Community Theatre. The success of these three cultural assets has sparked the revitalization of the city center, attracting private artist studios and galleries, other specialty shops, restaurants and residential development. The SFF has also worked regionally and statewide to support arts and cultural programming with the Abbeville Opera House, Dorn Historical Association, SC Educational Television, Greenwood Lander Performing Arts, Lander University, McCormick Arts Council, the Humanities Council SC, the National Heritage Corridor and the Benjamin Mays Historic Site. The Lowcountry has also felt the impact of the SFF’s support with the donation of land to construct the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina on Hilton Head Island (formerly the Self Family Arts Center).


Since 1995, the Self Family Foundation has granted more than $2.8 million to support arts and culture in South Carolina.


Organization: The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, with special recognition for Mark Sloan

The Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art at the College of Charleston exists to advocate, exhibit and interpret visual art, with an emphasis on contemporary art. In addition to producing exhibitions, lectures, film series, publications, and a comprehensive website, the Institute serves as an extension of the undergraduate curricula at the College and as a cultural resource for the region.


Much of the Institute’s success has been credited to the vision and leadership of director and senior curator Mark Sloan. Since Sloan’s arrival in 1994, the Halsey has taken the lead in establishing partnerships and collaborations with the City of Charleston, Gibbes Museum of Art, Clemson Architecture Center, Spoleto Festival USA and the Medical University of South Carolina to initiate dozens of innovative programs. Notable projects include the 1996 exhibition of the work of Juan Logan and Renee Stout, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. It included placing the artists in residence in area high schools and established a high bar for community outreach in future projects. Force of Nature: Site Installations by Ten Japanese Artists in 2006 brought artists from Japan to spend six weeks in residence creating art on site. Reviews for the exhibition

appeared in over 100 publications and a resulting book won awards from Art Libraries Society of North America and the American Association of Museums.


The Halsey has produced two major international exhibitions in partnership with Spoleto USA, attracting critical praise and record attendance. The Institute partnered with the Medical University of South Carolina to produce the Palmetto Portraits Project involving 24 photographers across the state. The result was a major exhibition of 285 portraits on exhibition at the State Museum in Columbia, a hardcover book and a comprehensive website that will have a life well beyond the current generation. Additional projects and initiatives have demonstrated the organization’s innovative and community-based approach to bringing high-quality contemporary art to South Carolina.


About the S.C. Arts Commission

The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances. Created by the South Carolina General Assembly in 1967, the Arts Commission works to increase public participation in the arts by providing services, grants and leadership initiatives in three areas: arts education, community arts development and artist development. Headquartered in Columbia, S.C., the Arts Commission is funded by the state of South Carolina, by the federal government through the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources. For more information, visit or call (803) 734-8696.



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