South Carolina Arts Commission

South Carolina Arts Commission

State Art Collection

The State Art Collection is considered the most comprehensive public collection of works by contemporary South Carolina artists.

Established in 1967 as one of the first programs of the South Carolina Arts Commission, the State Art Collection has grown to include 466 works in a variety of media and styles by 288 South Carolina contemporary artists. Small exhibitions featuring work from the collection are organized on a regular basis for rural and isolated areas inside and outside of the state. Works from the State Art Collection are available for loan to art museums, state agencies, and public and private organizations for the purpose of public exhibition or public display. The collection is supported in part by the South Carolina Arts Foundation and First Citizens.

Important update

As of summer 2021, State Art Collection acquisitions, exhibitions, and loans of its works are on pause for FY22 as the South Carolina Arts Commission takes time for caretaking and to thoughtfully evaluate how it can best serve constituents through the program.

For more information, please contact Arts Industry Director La Ruchala Murphy (| 803.734.8762).

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Image shown: Joseph Gandy | Going Home (detail) | 1985 | mixed media on paper | 30 1/2″ x 23 1/2″

  • is to create a collection of historic importance and cultural vitality for the people of South Carolina that will serve as a tool to help promote the state and its cultural resources on the state, regional, national and international levels;
  • to make available to citizens throughout South Carolina, the best work of the state’s contemporary artists;
  • to encourage and support the creative visual artists of South Carolina.

“As one of the most extensive compilation of works by the state’s artists, the collection offers a glimpse of a lively artistic community whose works reflect the most significant local, national and international artistic directions of the last four decades.”

2009 statement by Eleanor Heartney, contributing editor to Art in America and author of Art Today

“The collection is a tangible affirmation of the innovative spirit associated with the New South and its suddenly increasing cultural sophistication and economic power.”

1987 statement by Richard Fisher, former S.C. Arts Commission visual arts program director

“Taken as a whole, the South Carolina State Art Collection is a body of work that exemplifies the pluralism that has redefined American art over the past four decades. As such, it defies neat synthesis, pat conclusions, and stylistic generalizations.”

2009 statement by David Houston, former S.C. Arts Commission visual arts program director

“The State Art Collection is to many an old friend but to some a new acquaintance. It is the longest continuous running program of the S.C. Arts Commission. As it was over 50 years ago–a visible sign of support of the state’s contemporary artists–it continues to fulfill that goal and is considered an important tangible cultural asset of the Arts Commission.”

2017 statement by Harriett Green, former S.C. Arts Commission visual arts program director