October 1995

Arthur Rose, Sr.

Painter & Sculptor

Arthur Rose, Sr.

“I am fascinated to witness molten metal. When properly controlled it is channeled into art forms that often defy my imagination.” It is difficult to believe that anything could defy the imagination of Arthur Rose, Sr., a South Carolina artist whose works have won international acclaim. As an expressionist, Rose has been able to use a variety of media to create unusual art forms. “You have to be flexible in the way you think about art if you want to do something like this,” he said. “Very often I will just start drawing, painting, or welding and find my design after I start.” His most famous sculptures are those of animals, most notably his “Charging Bison” and “Killer Whale.” Rose, however, insists that he is first and foremost a painter, and many of his works are in oils and acrylics. Rose was brought up in Charleston. Living close to the ocean helped him to express himself artistically. “My inspiration comes from the sea coast and the relative freedom of the waves, and the winds which are not static, but are forever on the move.” His work has been exhibited in public and private art galleries in South Carolina and across the nation. He has been featured in one-man and group exhibitions throughout the country. Rose is a member of numerous professional organizations. He has received many honors and awards for his work in the field of art, including mentions in “Who’s Who in American Art,” “Who’s Who Among Black Americans,” and “Personalities of the South.” Fortunately, Rose was prepared to share his unique gifts and his name will always be associated with Claflin College in Orangeburg. He gained a college degree form Claflin in 1950 Two years later after earning a master’s degree in art from New York University, Rose returned to teach there for a 25-year period as chairman of the art department. He found that he had to be more than a teacher. Until the mid 1960’s, Claflin was the only college in South Carolina where African-Americans could get a degree in art. Many of his students were poor and Rose was always there to lend a helping hand, often taking them home and giving them meals, and providing them with art supplies. Many of the gifted students who came under his guidance at Claflin subsequently went to graduate school and became both artists and educators. One of them, Dr. Leo Twiggs, who established the art program and museum at South Carolina State College, has described Rose as “a one man department.” In his own unique way, he has shaped the perspective of generations of Black visual artists in his native state. He has shaped their collective consciousness and through them and his students, his influence remains incalculable.” As a result of his exemplary service in the field of education, Rose was chosen to appear in the 1972 edition of “Outstanding Educators of America.” In 1977, the artist who has frequently been called “the Dean of Black Arts in South Carolina” left Claflin to become artist in residence at Voorhees professor of art and taught through 1991. Claflin College recognized his contributions by naming the gallery in the WVM Fine Arts Center the Arthur Rose Gallery. His motto for a successful future is “Never let hard work or criticism impair your progress. Take them as a challenge and master our dreams.” As he himself did, Rose urges young people to “pursue your vision to the fullest.”