Silhouette Artform of Clay Rice
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Silhouettes: A Lowcountry Tradition

Garden and Gun

By M.K. Quinlan September 26, 2013

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South Carolina native Clay Rice has spent the last thirty years traveling across the South cutting children's silhouettes, those must-have mementos that are a rite of passage for every Southern mother. But it’s the Lowcountry that inspires his most personal and awe-inspiring work.

When he’s not on the road, Rice spends his time cutting large scale landscapes that incorporate the sights and sounds of his home—a little kid stringing for crabs or a hunter and his dog deep in the marsh. His largest—a 4’ x 8’ scene called “Lowcountry Sunrise,” took him more than 400 hours to complete, and was eventually transferred to iron as a sculpture that now hangs in the South Carolina State Museum. "Lowcountry Sunrise" is on permanent display at the South Carolina State Museum.

Rice’s most recent focus are scenes set against the night sky, like the “Lone on the Water” and "Midnight Watch" silhouettes pictured below. He’s currently at work on a meteor shower, a commission by NASA and the South Carolina State Museum that will be displayed at the museum’s new observatory, set to be unveiled in June of 2014.

Scissor skills run in Rice's family. His grandfather Carew Rice (1899-1971) was one of the South’s most well-known silhouette artists—prolific with his portraiture but most celebrated for his own Lowcountry scenes, many of which sell for top dollar at auction today.

“Grandaddy had such an eye for the Lowcountry,” Rice says. “Looking at his silhouettes is like looking through a time warp. They have a dream like quality. And that’s what I aim to do with mine.” Photos of Clay's grandfather, silhouette artist Carew Rice. A Lowcountry landscape cut by Carew Rice.

Prints of Rice’s silhouettes are for sale on his website, Signed copies of his children’s books, illustrated with small tokens of his larger silhouette scenes, can be purchased at Blue Bicycle Books.










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