Lowcountry Originals


September 2020 Issue

Cool art vibes saturate the air in every form and medium in the Lowcountry, one of the most beautiful natural canvases on earth. With all the surrounding beauty, it’s no wonder the Lowcountry is teeming with creative, talented artists. Some do it for fun. Some do it for a living. All do it to nourish their organic need to create.

Welcome to our first edition of Lowcountry Originals, where you will meet eight dynamic artisans, all filled will creative energy and verve for their work. They have allowed us a peek into their creative worlds, revealed their fears and doubts, told us what inspires them and given us insight into their processes.

Read below to take a creative stroll and step into the Lowcountry art scene >>

AlisonReese0920Alison Reese
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pa
Edible Art
Medium: Sugar cookies, Royal Icing and food coloring
Facebook: @SweetCrumbCustomCookies
Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Alison and her husband started vacationing on Hilton Head Island in 1976 and permanently moved here in 1998. She has been baking and decorating cookies, which she calls Sweet Crumbs, since 2006, the year her hometown Pittsburgh Steelers played in Super Bowl XL. For weeks before the game she made 5-inch sugar cookies that replicated the back of the team’s jerseys, complete with each player’s name and number. “EVERYONE wanted them and very simply, that’s when my passion for “edible art” began,” Alison said.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?
It was from my father, Jim Rich. He told me to figure out what I love to do, and whatever that might be, always give it 100 percent!

When embarking on a project do you pre-plan, or simply follow where your inspiration takes you?

When I start a special project, I have to talk to the person who is ordering and listen to exactly what they want. Requests for my cookies vary: weddings; birthdays; baby showers;  football; or golf—actually just about any shape for any occasion. If I can’t find the right cookie cutter, I make one myself. My first homemade one was a strip of copper I hammered flat in my breezeway and then bent into a shape I’d drawn, using needle-nose pliers. Fortunately, there are kits for this now. Baking and icing cookies are pretty standard tasks but when I’m decorating and painting, I’m free to use my imagination, and I never get bored.

Does creativity come naturally?

I’ve always been creative. Over the years my hobbies have included photography, knitting, sewing, needlepoint, cooking, and of course, baking. Several years ago I began making custom birthday cards for children in my family—at last count, 34 great-nieces and nephews. All of these activities require time and effort, but it never seems like work to me.

What do you do when you experience a creative block? Is there something that you do to put you in a creative state of mind?

I photograph all my designs and have prints made. If I’m tired, or it’s late, or I have cookies to decorate, and I can’t decide what to do, I look through my pictures, filed by subject, and I’m ready to go.

What has been your greatest creative moment?

My greatest creative moment was the moment I realized that I could create smiles using flour, sugar, eggs and butter!

From where do you seek inspiration?

I fell in love with Hilton Head Island 44 years ago. All around me I see ocean, beach, sandcastles, flip-flops, umbrellas, shrimpers, sailboats, dolphins, alligators and turtles, golf greens, bunkers and rakes and special places like the chapel at Palmetto Bluff. I can see a cookie wherever I look. Making that cookie is what I love to do.

Carolanne0920Carolanne O’Fee
Hilton Head Island, SC
Fashion Designer
Medium: A mix! Fabric, beads, sequins, paint
anything I can get my hands on!
Instagram: @maisonofee

Carolanne is a recent graduate of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Art has always been her favorite subject. She grew up with creative, empowering women, who all had a unique sense of style, which taught her the profound impact that clothes can have on an individual’s identity, or self-esteem. Thus grew her affinity for fashion. As a natural storyteller, Carolanne uses fashion to evoke emotions and convey a story that can relate to many different people. Currently, she is focusing on crafting accessories and jewelry. She and her sister, Charlotte, have collaborated, starting an Instagram account to promote their original accessories and mural business. Their main goal is to make the Lowcountry more beautiful, whether that be a necklace around someone’s neck, or a mural in a local restaurant!

What is the best advice that you have been given?

I heard multiple times from my professors at SCAD—Just try it! What’s the worst that could happen? My biggest roadblock is any new project that involves trying something new, especially with the technicalities of sewing. It can be scary to try something you’ve never done before. Also, they told me—don’t be afraid to step away from your work. Nothing cures a creative block more than taking a break from what you’re working on and getting a fresh perspective.

Are you your biggest critic?

Yes, and it feels more like a curse than a blessing. It’s awful! I am such a perfectionist that I never feel like my work is finished. Then when it is done, I see things I want to change or keep working on. I am trying to learn that it is ok to walk away from your work, and be proud of what you’ve created.

How do you usually get your creative juices flowing?
One of my favorite things to do is flip through fashion magazines. When you constantly look at other people’s creative expressions, you start to constantly think creatively. In school, my most successful designs were born out of collaging with shapes and colors I cut out of magazines. I also am blessed to have many creative friends and family members, so I love to bounce ideas around with them. When you surround yourself with creativity, it just comes naturally.

What advice do you have for people trying to follow their artistic passion?
Embrace your mistakes! When I first started college, I didn’t even know how to turn on a sewing machine! I didn’t know what I was doing at all; I just knew that I had to pursue fashion. I loved it too much. It was absolutely frightening to learn a new skill, and you really do have to be vulnerable and accept the fact that you’re going to make mistakes. Everyone says, “You have to love what you do,” or “Be passionate about your process,” but mistakes can make you feel defeated. There have been times when I’ve almost given up, but it is always worth it in the end—every single time! There is nothing more rewarding than conquering something that challenged you. Sewing still scares me, and I still make mistakes all the time. Sometimes I have to redo something 10 times before I get it right, but it gets easier the more you force yourself to just push through it.

From where do you seek inspiration?
I get inspiration from everywhere! I love to have some sort of historical reference when I’m designing, and looking back, many of my designs at SCAD felt very Victorian. Looking to history allows me to get inspiration from movies, paintings and books. I am also interested in interior design, architecture, photography and even car design, but no matter where I get my inspiration from, I try to keep my designs contemporary and fresh.

Mahoganee AmigérMahoganee0920
Hometown: Summerton, SC  
(St. Helena Island for the past 10 years)
Recording Artist, Songwriter, Teaching Artist
Medium: Music

If womanism had a soundtrack, Mahoganee, known as the Sea Island Songbird, would be a featured artist. She has been a performing artist since 1991, and her musical stylings embody the spirit of this concept. Her vocals are tender, yet powerful and filled with passion—passion for music, passion for what lies deep within her soul, passion for community and message. She released her first album in 2006 and has released two albums and many singles since then. As a natural progression of her artistry, she extended her talent as a teaching artist. “It felt right being in a classroom/mentoring setting, teaching and being creative with students,” Mahoganee said.

Have you ever doubted your talent?
Yes. Doubt is first cousins with fear, but whenever they rear their ugly heads, I push them aside, push through and do it anyway. I put positive mantras all around me. I’m always speaking life into myself when I look in the mirror. It’s a counterattack to the doubt and fear that’s outside of my body and in the world.

When embarking upon a project, do you pre-plan, or simply follow where your inspiration takes you?
Ideas, inspiration and creativity are always there but planning and strategizing come into the process once the idea is recorded and put on paper. Where the inspiration comes from usually leads the project. I work with my husband, Andre Amigér, who’s a music producer and sound designer. We are both teaching artists and pre-planning projects for the classroom is key to bringing success to our students. Even when you pre-plan, things happen, so I am always open to allowing magic to happen authentically.

My most recent project,“1619”, is a great example of following the inspiration. It came from “The 1619 Project & Podcast” in the New York Times by Nicole Hannah-Jones. Although I feel like my entire life has led to this song, the seeds planted in 2020 made it grow. My husband calls us “music farmers,” as we grow inspiration into art. We made a conscious effort to release this song on June 19 this year to celebrate and honor Juneteenth. Visit my website if you’d like to know more.

What advice would you give to people trying to follow their artistic passion?
I love Star Wars, so in the words of Yoda: “Do or not do, there is no try,” and “The greatest teacher, failure is.” Take the pressure off of yourself by embracing the process and enjoying the journey.  Surround yourself with positive people who are doing the thing you wish to do. You may find them locally, if not, search online, and use their journey as inspiration. Learn as much as you can about it and keep wanting to learn and grow always. What God has done for them will also be done for you.

When and how did you discover your talent?
I was in middle school, and although I was very shy, my friends would always ask me to sing for them. I realized I must sound good because they liked it.

From where do you seek inspiration?
Honestly, most of the time inspiration seeks me and comes from everywhere, which is why I have to be careful about what I allow into my space. Our perspective creates the lens through which we see, and that allows the visionary in me to see and hear beyond the normal. Being a creative person is in my genes. It’s the very fiber of my DNA. I just turned 50, and like a butterfly, I feel like I just came out of the cocoon with a different understanding that I carry so much power, especially in my creativity.

Another important factor is being a part of a community that fosters and seeks artistic inspiration that will be used to positively benefit their community. Across South Carolina, an initiative called “The Art of Community: Rural SC” has taken root, creating new networks, community engagement, partnerships and energy to change minds and build togetherness. This ongoing, creative community development initiative is part of the Community Arts Development Program of The SC Arts Commission. The initiative poses a central question: How can we use arts and culture as strategic tools to address local challenges we face? As an Official SC Arts Commission Arts in Education Approved Artist in the field of music, I am honored to be sharing my artistry to help lead the charge.

What artist, living or passed, would you love to spend a day with, what would the day look like and what are three questions you would ask them?

NINA SIMONE! The day would be spent at a songwriting retreat held at my home in the mountains of Jamaica. My husband and I would cook a delicious vegan meal, and we would laugh and talk music, history and hear her stories about Lorraine Hansberry and James Baldwin and discuss how she penned “Mississippi Goddam”, “Four Women” and “Blackbird.” The 3 questions: 1. Many of your lyrics and quotes are used as mantras all around the world, how does that make you feel? 2. Would you do anything different? 3. Let’s write a song together, are you open to that?

Karen0920Karen Plair
Beaufort, SC
Mosaic Colored Glass Artist
Medium: Glass
Facebook: @BlueHeronCreations

Raised in Beaufort, Karen brings her beloved Lowcountry to life in unique mosaic glass creations. Beaufort Middle Shool Office Manager and Bookeeper by day and artist by night (well, weekend), Karen's glass work evolved through a foray into complicated lampwork, ceramic tile and stain glass work. After finding it a bit too precise, she turned to her surrounds for inspiration. Now her pieces feature sand, shells, resin, wood, paint and three dimensional pieces—encased in beautiful antique, repurposed frames or wood. Karen's "hobby" has come a long way as she now accepts commission work. "I have to admit it's gratifying to have the reassurance that others see my work as beautiful art," said Karen. And, as she loves to spend time on the water, we're thankful the inspiration will keep on coming.

When embarking upon a project do you pre-plan or follow inspiration?
When I get an idea I have direction to start with, however it changes as I go along. I either add to or take away from the design. My colors may change as I get into it. Every piece is an original. I have tried to duplicate a piece I’ve done, and it is never exactly the same. I usually go through many Band-aids with each piece, too.

How do you get your creative juices flowing?
I can see a picture, or just be driving or walking around the area and get something forming in my mind. Most of my pieces are Lowcountry related because there is so much to get inspired by. I love sharing a little Lowcountry in every piece I do.

When and how did you discover your talent?
I have always been a “craft” person. I’ve done sewing, needlepoint, candle making, jewelry and lampwork glass bead making. I have an embroidery machine and a vinyl machine that I get into creating signs and cups, etc. My first time working with glass was with a kiln and molds. I like to try things! I’ll see where someone has made something, and I want to try it at least once. I started doing mosaic work with ceramic tile. My first project was a table top for my son, which led to pictures using the tiles. When I grew tired of working with the glass and kiln, I started experimenting with the glass for pictures, and so it began.

Why did you choose this medium?
It just evolved to it. I’m not sure if I chose it, or it chose me. I like the fluidity it offers. I begin with a picture in my mind, but you never know what it will become.

Do you have periods of creativity?
My creativity flows continuously, sometimes to excess. I am always thinking of what I’ll do next. I may take a few days off, but I always feel like I should be creating something. I have so many pieces in a spare room in my house, and I tell myself not to do anymore. However, now Lady’s Island Marina is carrying some of my work in their store, which has helped the overflow.



Meredith McCurdy

Ridgeland, SC
Portraiture and Lifestyle

“Chase light. Chase things that make you feel alive, passions that fill your soul, ideas and dreams that keep you up at night. Chase light in the sense of fostering it within yourself and the people around you.” —M.

Growing up with countless digital cameras frequently used to take photos of her dogs and friends, Meredith has always loved photography. It wasn’t until she was working at her first post college job with an interior designer that it clicked, literally, and she decided to pursue photography full time. “It’s both the best and the scariest decision I’ve ever made,” she said! Outside of work, Meredith lives life fully hanging out with her family and friends, traveling, cooking, being outside and trying new restaurants—“my morning coffee and afternoon wine.” And mixed into all that, she is always seeking inspiration for her next shoot!

What is your favorite color?
Brown! It always has been even when I was little. It’s funny because I think you see those warm tones of earthy beiges and creamy whites in my photos!

Are you your own worst critic?
Yes, but I also know you never stop learning. When I see my photos, I always see things I can improve on, from camera technicalities to simply how I pose clients. The learning never stops!

When embarking upon a project, do you pre-plan, or simply follow where your inspiration takes you?
Yes and no. Yes, in the sense that I show up to a shoot as prepared as possible with equipment that is ready to go and backups if I need it. I know my setting because I’ve done my research. I know my clients, their outfits and what kind of shots they are looking for. I have poses in my head that I know I want to do. However, expect the unexpected! Nothing goes exactly as planned, and that’s okay! It may be due to the weather, lighting or a million other things. I always go into shoot ready to improvise, and sometimes the best images come out of it.

How do you get your creative juices flowing?

A fresh cup of coffee, Pinterest and being in a room with great natural light!

What do you do when you experience a creative block?

I just stop for a while, go outside, get my eyes off my computer screen and forget about it for a bit. Going back to a project with fresh eyes is a game changer.

What advice would you give to others who are motivated to become more creative?
Just do it! Why waste a second not pursuing what you love?


Judy0920Judy Blahut
Hometown: Centerville, Ohio
Medium: Mostly Painting and Ceramics
Website: www.judyblahutstudios.com

Having the amazing fortune of being born into a family of artists, Judy has been creating art for as long as she can remember. Her grandmother, mother, two aunts and uncle all studied art in college. Her mother was an elementary school art teacher and she and her siblings were her guinea pigs having the opportunity to experience art all the time. “We were encouraged to make messes and enjoy the process without expectations of what the finished work should look like,” she said.

“I chose to study painting in college because I love color. Every painting is a new experience with color and form. Most of my art is fairly abstract. I want to create something new to look at by using parts and colors of objects. I generally work in a series. I like to explore a theme or subject until I feel I‘ve exhausted it. My paintings and ceramic pieces are an extension of my emotional and physical life. They are the most authentic part of me.”

What is the best advice that you have been given? 
Just start making marks, it will lead to something. Truthfully, it always does.

Have you ever doubted your talent? 
I have often doubted my talent. As a younger artist it definitely held me back. Feelings of not being good enough are not pleasant. I have had so many rejections from art shows that I have often wondered why I am still at it. But I have learned, through much self- evaluation, that I have a very strong need to create. Most importantly, I have grown a thick skin. I create because that is what I was meant to do and I can’t stop. There are so many wonderful artists in the world. I work through doubt by staying focused on my own art. It’s so important to stay true to who you are. There is no limit on art and artists. We all have something to share with the world.

When embarking upon a project, do you pre-plan, or simply follow where your inspiration takes you? 

I usually follow where inspiration takes me. Most of the time I have a general idea I want to express. I usually start by making an abstract background on the canvas or paper and begin to add shapes like shells, trees, people or grasses. I often paint over images multiple times. Then I will let the paint lead me into a narrative. My paintings can be interpreted in many ways.

How do you usually get your creative juices flowing? 

I mostly get my creative juices flowing by going outside. Nature has always inspired me. Much of my work explores the difference between what is actually seen and what is masked behind the form of an object. The Lowcountry landscapes and seascapes are full of limitless inspiration.

From where do you seek inspiration?

I am interested in the secret areas that exist within the shape of a natural subject. I look beyond an object’s form by deconstructing its parts and putting them back together in a new way. I use a process that I like to call interrupting or fracturing space. Most of the outcomes allow the viewer to understand more about the subject than its actual appearance. The form, which gives a verbal association to an object, is no longer necessary. A new experience with the object now exists!

What has been your greatest creative moment?

Raising my four children. There is nothing more creative than the day-to-day process of raising a human being.

Judy’s work will be featured November 3-28 at The Art League of Hilton Head Gallery located inside the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina at 14 Shelter Cove lane, HHI.

Hailey KingHailey0920
DBA: HK Steel Art
Bluffton, SC
Steel Artist
Medium: Steel

Hailey King began working with steel and turning into art in January, 2017. Her father taught her to weld and plasma cut, and she has been happily creating one-of-a-kind pieces ever since. She loves taking cold hard sheets of steel and turning them into beautiful, soft, flowing works of art. Each piece is hand drawn, then cut with a plasma torch. After that, they are grinded, torched, or painted and finished with an automotive clear coat to make them perfect for use indoors or out. Each piece is unique, a true work of art, just like Hailey!

Why did you choose this medium for expressing your creativity? 
Since I was young, I loved painting and drawing. As I got older, I realized the competitive nature in this field. Even so, I wanted to have a creative career and pursue my creative talents. My father has a shop where I have access to the equipment that  I grew up being scared of. I finally decided I needed to learn so I could express my thoughts in steel and stand out.

From where do you seek inspiration?
Growing up in the Lowcountry and spending many days on the boat, sandbar, beach and dock has all inspired my work. I enjoy creating pieces that are inspired by my interests such as sea life, trees, horses and mermaids, which happen to be what many people like, too.

How do you usually get your creative juices flowing? 
When I have a fresh sheet of steel in front of me, I start to draw whatever is in my head, which can get repetitive. My favorite type of inspiration comes from my customers who have an idea of what they are looking for, and I can interpret their thoughts and translate them into steel. I recently had a customer who had an electric panel in their house and commissioned me to create a piece to cover the panel. I decided that it would be much more convenient if the piece that I made was on hinges and swung open so that the panel was accessible. I created a layered heron piece, which opens like a door. This was a very fun piece!

What artist, living or passed, would you love to spend a day with, what would the day look like and what are three questions you would ask them?
When I was 5, my Ome (grandmother) took me to meet and spend time with Robert Wyland. I watched in awe as he painted a sumi ink silhouette of a dolphin, which I took home. I have always been inspired by the sea life he paints and his bronze sculptures. This is a vivid memory of mine and he continues to be an inspiration to me.

What is your favorite color?
Does this color describe you as a person? I use an oxy-acetylene torch, which naturally creates the teal and blue colors in my pieces. This beautiful, calm color has always been my favorite color because of my love for the ocean and sea life, and it happens to be on all of my work.

When embarking upon a project, do you pre-plan, or simply follow where your inspiration takes you?
I am currently attending the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) where I am assigned very obscure projects, which are designed to push creativity to its limits. I give a lot of credit to SCAD for teaching me to take risks and trust my instincts when It comes to creativity. My professors promote exploring all options before pursuing an idea, so there is a lot of preliminary sketching. This has carried over into my steel art by making my eye sharper and catching issues before they occur.


Rindy Jerue

St. Helena Island, SC
Medium: Mixed media
For more information on her work: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Rindy started making her Gullah Angels about 14 years ago when she learned about the Gullah culture and people and became acquainted with Penn Center Museum on St. Helena Island. The Center’s history and the Quaker women who arrived there in the 1860s to work with the Gullah who lived on St. Helena Island sparked her imagination. She had learned to make rustic dolls when she lived in Hawaii many years ago. “The Hawaiian dolls were designed to reflect the women of the Hawaiian Islands, and I had the idea that I could create similar dolls that reflected the Gullah women of our sea islands,” she said. “The Gullah Angels I design—with a good deal of artistic license—are made to reflect and honor the women’s work out on these islands in the years after the Civil War. I enjoy creating them and am always trying to add yet another design to the group.”

Are you your own worst critic?

I critique my work all the time. I work with bits and pieces so no two dolls are exactly the same. This leaves me constantly asking myself if each one is good enough. However, I have learned that the differences give each doll her own look.

Have you ever doubted your talent?

I always doubt my talent. What I make can be done by many, but I think I have a few original ideas.

When embarking upon a project, do you pre-plan,

or simply follow where your inspiration takes you?
I pre-plan as I work out a new design. Inspiration will strike, and then I have to figure out how to dress and get the angel to reflect her particular deed.

From where do you seek inspiration?

I get most of my ideas from reading about what life was like for women on our islands during the late 1800s and by looking at photographs and artworks depicting life at that time. However, I try not to be too literal in my creations.  

What advice would you give to other people

who are motivated to become more creative?
The best advice I have been given, and it’s come from many people over the years, is “jump in!” If you have an idea you would like to pursue, do it. In art there is really nothing to lose but ever so much to gain.  

Why did you choose this medium for expressing your creativity? 

I work with a variety of mediums to create my Angels, which helps me make each doll unique. I use wood, cloth, yarn and beads, along with shells, pine straw, grasses, pine cones and other little bits and pieces of the Lowcountry to tell each angel’s story.

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