Museum acquires Matriarchs of the Lowcountry portrait series

The South Carolina State Museum has proudly acquired the Matriarchs of the Lowcountry portrait series by artist and storyteller Natalie Daise. Renowned for her role in the Nickelodeon series Gullah Gullah Island, Daise created these portraits to honor six Black women who have been pivotal in preserving and promoting Gullah culture and culinary traditions.

The Matriarchs of the Lowcountry series was created during the 2023 Charleston Wine + Food Festival and celebrates six influential culinary figures: Emily Meggett, Martha Lou Gadsden, Albertha Grant, Sally Ann Robinson, Sara Green, and Charlotte Jenkins. Each portrait captures these “patron saints” of Gullah cuisine, depicting them surrounded by dark green collard leaves, dressed in vibrant attire, and adorned with halos of woven sweetgrass and 24K gold leaf.

Daise expressed a deep personal connection to her subjects, stating, “I felt the love they had for their communities and the way they shared that love—a pan of cornbread, the sizzle of fried chicken, their asbestos textured hands pulling hot pans of sweet potato out of the oven. They are the reason we are here.”

Dr. Ramon Jackson, Curator of African American History and Culture at the museum, emphasized the significance of this acquisition: “This artwork offers an opportunity for us to explore the role of the Gullah in shaping South Carolina’s cultural heritage and highlights the importance of Black women as leaders, activists, and storytellers.”

The Matriarchs of the Lowcountry portraits will be showcased at the museum’s event, Harvesting Heritage: Black Culinary Traditions in the Palmetto State, on May 18. The event will also include discussions featuring Natalie Daise, Amethyst Ganaway, and Dr. Ramon Jackson. Tickets for this event are available at