The Greenville Metropolitan Arts Council’s (MAC) monthly First Friday events offer students a chance to experience Greenville’s diverse art collections and connect with the local art community.
On the first Friday of every month, the local galleries that partner with MAC hold free art showings open to the public from 6-9 p.m.
Many galleries hold themed First Fridays. In February, the Greenville Center for Creative Arts presented an exhibition called “My Daughter Gathers Seeds,” which focused on telling a story through art to bring attention to social issues and teach tenderness and empathy. Art Crossing boasted a Southern accent designs art showing.
Erin Turner, director of marketing at the MAC, said it is important to bring the community together and talk about societal issues through art.
“These events offer an opportunity to bring awareness to the public about different issues in the community and beyond,” she said. “Greenville art is unique because so many different artists come here from all over thanks to the diverse and accepting community that is already here. They want to contribute to that community.”
Turner believes Greenville hosts a rich art scene. “Everything is very accessible in Greenville,” she said. “The city has always loved the arts, whether that be theatre, music or art galleries. The main thing art does is bring people together. So many different people from different backgrounds can all enjoy and experience the same piece of art and all connect to it.
“We do not have just one demographic that goes to these events,” Turner said. “We have people from across the age spectrum, from college students to our retired community, [who] all come together to marvel over the same artwork.”
Jared Stanley, a member of BJU’s Division of Art + Design faculty, emphasized the unifying effect of art.
“Art is powerful in the regard that it causes the viewer to take on the lens of the artist and see the world through their eyes,” he said. “We as viewers can understand a bit more of the challenges others face, which can bring about empathy, an important function of art. It’s important for us to listen to others if we ever wish to lovingly share Christ with them. Christ, His sacrifice and redemption unite people across all cultural backgrounds.”
Michelle Radford, another member of BJU’s Division of Art + Design faculty, believes Christians have a duty to appreciate the arts.
“We have art and design everywhere,” she said. “We have visual stimuli everywhere. We can’t get away from it, and within the fine arts and the First Friday events here in Greenville and the art galleries and museums we have around us, beauty and intention of communication are concentrated. We find them in high concentration in a way that maybe we would only find in the more diluted form in other places.”
“From a theological standpoint, if we’re thinking about who God is and how did this beauty get to us, God is a trinity, and the Trinitarian joy and fullness and delight and communication is overflowed into the created world,” Radford said. “One of our jobs is to sense that and to declare it and to find where it shows up in our world.”
“When on a Friday night we see a painting or a sculpture that an artist has made in a gallery, we are seeing the ways in which humans have cultivated those potentials,” she said. “We see those raw materials that God put in the earth, and hopefully we’ll be able to find some examples where humans have formed these materials in a way that actually points towards more beauty and maybe cultivates further beauty out of the potentials.”
Stanley encourages students to take advantage of the MAC’s events. “The MAC is supportive of the arts within Greenville and the surrounding areas,” he said. “They organize a schedule, map and trail for Frist Friday events. I have enjoyed using these on a number of occasions.”
Those interested in Greenville art events can look for these and other resources at the MAC’s website, https://www.greenvillearts.com.
Stanley also stressed the importance of discernment.
“First of all, be in God’s word. Be filled with His thoughts before you let other thoughts in. Understand that we are contending for our culture, as we heard during Bible Conference,” he said.
Stanley encouraged consumers of the arts to meditate on Philippians 4:8.
Turner noted that Alex and Larry Burgamy have been the presenting sponsors of MAC’s First Friday program since 2021. Larry is president of Lincoln Energy Solutions, headquartered in Greenville. He and his wife Alex recently moved back to Greenville from San Francisco. Both love Greenville and the arts and want to do their part to contribute to the arts in the city of Greenville.