'The American Gullah Collection' depicts the unsung pioneers of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor and of America. The story behind this culture's creation is compelling. The Gullahs are descendants of West Africans who were forced to the colony through the trans-Atlantic slave trade. They were brought to South Carolina because of their knowledge about the process of cultivating rice. However, they also possessed other intellectual prowess.
In addition, West African people brought their culture with many valuable assets that have influenced American culture. They easily adapted to the moist Carolina climate and landscape primarily, because the southeastern marsh landscape resembled that of West Africa. The combination of all these things made West African slaves one of the most valuable assets on South Carolina rice plantations, giving them a major role in the successful production, preparation of rice and the major success of the economy in South Carolina.
Due to an estimated 100,000 West Africans being brought to Gadsden's Wharf in Charleston, South Carolina, many West Africans were purchased and taken to cities throughout the nation. This forced migration led to a high percentage of all African American's ability to trace their roots back to South Carolina, which attracts so many visitors each year. Although the benefits of rice production were many for the planters of South Carolina plantation owners, these benefits were rarely experienced by the enslaved Africans who were responsible for this success.
The American Gullah Collection effectively communicates the Gullah culture and Lowcountry living with its viewers. Each piece lures viewers into the paintings and leaves them with a desire to learn more about this captivating Pan African American cultural treasure. Sonja Griffin Evans' American Gullah Collection reflects compassion and redeeming love. It gives a visual example of one's humanity. It immortalizes the divinity, an expression of the soul. It brings to life, through art, the Gullah story; while instilling in the viewer's heart a yearning to visit the amazingly beautiful, historical and spiritual destinations which encompasses the Gullah culture.