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The Unscene South

A little-known population of Blacks lived free in the United States, long before Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation ended slavery. Through Charles Eady’s paintings, “The Unscene South” shares evidence and details of their existence, and presents opportunities to view the realities of their daily lives, seeking to eliminate many misconceptions about Blacks and the South.

The term “free Blacks” was used pre-Civil War to distinguish between people of color who were free, and people of color who were slaves. Free Blacks were free to live, work, and own businesses and property. The first federal census of 1790 revealed an official accounting of their presence. They were listed as “Other Free” or “Free People of Color.” In South Carolina, 1,801 lived in rural and urban areas. Moreover, there were more free Blacks living in the South than the North, a trend that continued until the Civil War. Most chose to live in the South because living conditions were more favorable, and opportunities to own a business and property were more accessible. By 1860, nearly 10,000 free Blacks lived in South Carolina. 500,000 lived in America.

“The Unscene South: Charles Eady Revisits History” reveals the history and courage of the “Other Free” living in the pre-Civil War South.

(pictured: Charles Eady, “Colonial Jockey,” 2020, Mixed media, 36 x 48 in. and “Afros and Banjos,” 2021, Oil on canvas, 37 x 48 in.)


About the Artist

Charles Eady, a mixed-media artist born in South Carolina and currently based in Ocala, Florida, graduated from Claflin University with a BA in Art Education. His art has been exhibited both nationally and internationally.

An award-winning artist and author, Eady’s artwork is inspired by and remains focused on the history of free Blacks in the South prior to the Civil War. His painting depicting an early Black jockey, “American Jockey” is in the permanent collection of the Appleton Museum of Art. His painting “Anna” won the Grand Prize at the 2021 ArtFields in Lake City, South Carolina. In 2022, Eady returned to ArtFields as a judge.

Eady was one of only five recipients of the 2022 State Teaching Artist Residency (STAR). The STAR program, dating back to 2011, is designed to honor and nourish Florida public school art educators.  Click here to visit the artist’s website.

Upcoming Events with the Artist

Exhibition Talk
January 6, 11 a.m. 

Join us in the auditorium to learn more about “The Unscene South” with exhibition artist, author and educator Charles Eady. This event is free as part of Free First Saturday; no reservation needed to attend.

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