CHARLESTON, S.C. (wCBD) – His works of art have garnered numerous awards and have won international acclaim, world renowned artist Dr. Leo Twiggs’ illustrious career has spanned more than half a century.
Inspired by memories of growing up in his hometown of St. Stephen, South Carolina, 86-year-old Dr. Leo Twiggs paints original thought provoking images. He says, “When I want to save a color, what I do is I cover that color with wax.” He uses a unique style that he developed for use in contemporary art. “I use a technique and that technique is Batik. Batik is a technique used to do scarves. I was fascinated with the softness of the color, the cracks in the colors, and I thought what if I try to paint with this. It took me a couple of years to control the medium, and then I continued to paint with it. There was nothing to look at, nothing to read, because I was in new territory and then it started happening.”
Dr. Twiggs graduated from Claflin University. He later studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and received his MA from New York University. He received a Doctor of Arts degree from the University of Georgia. Then, he developed the fine arts department at South Carolina State University. He was also in charge of building the University’s museum and planetarium. Dr. Twiggs says, “that put South Carolina State not just on the map, we were probably, one of the few, probably the only, Historically Black College with a museum that was built.”
Dr. Twiggs also designed the official seals for both SCSU and Claflin. Congressman James Clyburn entered his name into the Congressional record. His works hang in museums, galleries, and embassies around the world. Dr. Twiggs says his most striking body of work is his tribute to the victims of Emanuel A.M.E. Church. “As far as a series of paintings, I think the Mother Emanuel paintings were perhaps for me the most striking. It’s called Requiem for Mother Emanuel, a series of paintings. This movement from hate to redemption,” Twiggs says.
He gives credit to his family for his lifetime of achievements. “I have a wife who has taken the wax out of my work every one of them since I started experimenting. I tell people all the time when I speak to them is that, if I seem to be flying high it’s because she’s the wind beneath my wings. When all the awards came, she just stood in the shadows, and urged me on.”
Recently Dr. Twiggs was inducted into the South Carolina Hall of Fame and his hometown held a full day of celebrations in his honor, Dr. Leo Twiggs Day. He says, “I was just thinking, sitting on that stage, when these types of things happen, there’s usually a big box out there and you’re lying down in it. Here I am, getting the flowers while I’m alive. That is the real blessing. I am abundantly blessed because I can still smell the flowers. “