William McNeill discusses a vanishing relic of southern Americana

Submitted by
Kelly Howard
Marketing and Development Coordinator
Theatre Art Galleries, Inc.

A Lunch and Learn Presentation/Performance, Thurs., Mar. 20 from 12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

Theatre Art Galleries and the North Carolina Humanities Council happily present “Fannin' the Heat Away: A Celebration of the Art and Social History of the Handheld Church Fan”.

In this unique program, William McNeill discusses a vanishing relic of southern Americana: the handheld church fan. While showing his large collection of vintage church fans, he explores their place in Christian art and reveals how the fans have served as devotional icons. He also illustrates the important role church fans have played in the world of advertising and in the visual culture of the American South. The fans trigger memories of a time gone by – a warmer and more innocent time before the cooling breezes of air conditioning.

Using a piano and his collection of fans, McNeill gives his multimedia program to audiences across the state. As a child, he became fascinated by the images and ads on fans used in his Bladen County country church. As he grew into an entertainer and historian, those memories led him on a trip of discovery. He shares those discoveries with audiences statewide. Using gospel songs, hymns, and popular tunes, he connects his audiences with a vanished world resurrected through his fan collection.

McNeill also shows the secular, commercial purposes of advertisements on the other side of these fans.  The sacred and the secular co-existed back to back. His program conjures memories of an almost forgotten world. Through song and word McNeill brings back memories of the Southern way of life.

*Required acknowledgement:  This project is made possible by a grant from the North Carolina Humanities Council, a statewide nonprofit and affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. http://www.nchumanities.org.

*This lecture is free and open to the public but reservations are required. An optional boxed lunch from Southern Roots is also available for $20. Call the TAG office to register and/or purchase lunch (336-887-2137) or visit www.tagart.org/events to conveniently register for both online.

Gallery hours:             Tuesday - Friday from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m.
Saturdays by appointment only. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
Staff hours:   Tuesday - Friday from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

 For more information call the TAG office at 336.887.2137. 

Theatre Art Galleries (TAG) is located in the High Point Theatre (inside of the International Home Furnishings Center), downtown High Point, NC  27260.

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