In the Jasper Spotlight

The Jasper Spotlight is a series of brief web profiles of some of the Columbia, SC superheroes who, in small ways and large, help hold up the arts community’s sky.

Check back every Wednesday to read about another champion of Columbia arts, and send your suggestions for Jasper Spotlight subjects to


Shining Light in the Dark: Caitlin Bright on Culture Shake and the underground arts scene By Haley Sprankle

Every day we are faced with monotonous opportunities. We revel in routine and consistency. We stick to what we know because it’s safe. How often do we challenge ourselves and step outside of our comfort zones? Caitlin Bright, Executive Director of Tapp’s Arts Center, asks Columbia just that with her recent Culture Shake initiative. “We […]

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Writing What He Knows — Spotlight on James D. McCallister by Kirby Knowlton

  James (Don) McCallister grew up in Kershaw County, where he dreamed of one day writing big, literary novels. Now, a published author and teacher, McCallister has created an entire fictionalized world: Edgewater County, SC, where most of his writing is set. This summer, McCallister returns to his Storytelling Workshop at Midlands Technical College after […]

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Spotlight on Al Black – Celebrating 5 Years of Mind Gravy!

Five years ago Al Black started a spoken word poetry group called Mind Gravy hoping to make some difference in the local, and highly diverse, poetry scene. Today, Wednesday night Mind Gravy has become the most anticipated night of the week for a large cadre of devoted attendees. Some people come to read or recite, […]

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Spotlight on Barry Wheeler

By: Grace Fennell Barry Brian Wheeler has always seen things a bit differently. His background in IT gives him a different perspective than many other artists, and he comes from a more cognitive, computerized mindset that sees colors as digital information. In his newest piece entitled “digit-eyes” (which he premiers at the Indie Grits festival […]

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Spotlight on Amy Shumaker & Runaway Runway

  By Haley Sprankle One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Local president of Columbia Design League, Amy Shumaker takes this idiom quite literally as she spearheads the return of Columbia’s 8th annual Runaway Runway, an unusual fashion show which features clothing designs completely composed of recycled materials. The show is explicitly designed to raise […]

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Spotlight on Tracie Broom

By Grace Fennell Tracie Broom, a Columbia native, couldn’t wait to leave as a teenager. It wasn’t until years later, when she returned from working in San Francisco as a food writer, that she became fully committed to the beauty and thriving culture that Columbia had to offer. She also had become very interested in […]

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Spotlight on Mollie Williamson and Girls Rock

By Erika Ryan Girls Rock is perhaps one of the most empowering and educational outlets for young girls in Columbia, and Mollie Williamson is just one of the many ladies that makes it as powerful as it is. If you’re not familiar with Girls Rock, it’s a camp that uses music education as a platform […]

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Spotlight on Caroline Lewis Jones

Before moving to New York City at 18 to pursue a career in dance, Caroline Lewis Jones lived here in Columbia. Now, she’s brought her talents back to her hometown to choreograph Godspell for Trustus Theatre. Lewis Jones’s big move provided her with some very big opportunities. She performed at the MTV Video Music Awards […]

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Spotlight on Joelle Ryan-Cook

Joelle Ryan-Cook has spent the past 22 years working at the Columbia Museum of Art, growing and shaping what is arguably one of Columbia’s finest treasures. Her experience, from the ground up, affords Ryan-Cook a unique and intimate understanding of what makes the art museum. While studying Art History at USC, Ryan-Cook began working at […]

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Spotlight on Jackie Adams

Jackie Adams Talks the Goodall Gallery and the Best Burger in Town by Kirby Knowlton “There are relationships being cultivated, and connections and learning happening that extend beyond the art and the space, into the daily lives of our students, our campus, our artists, and our community that inspire how the arts are a meaningful […]

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