Gullah Gullah Island’s Natalie Daise’s New Portrait Series Honoring the Mothers of South Carolina Debuts at State Museum


May 22, 2024

Mrs. Natalie is a woman of many talents, in case you didn’t know!

According to The New Irmo News, The South Carolina State Museum has recently welcomed a profound addition to its collection: the “Matriarchs of the Lowcountry” portrait series by renowned artist and storyteller Natalie Daise. Known for her beloved role as Mrs. Natalie in the Nickelodeon series Gullah Gullah Island, Daise has created these portraits to celebrate six Black women who have played a pivotal role in preserving and promoting Gullah culture and culinary traditions.

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A post shared by Natalie Daise (@gullahmama)


Daise, her husband Ron, daughter Sara, and son Simeon (of CW’s All American) are more than just actors from the 90’s preschool show. The couple also served as culture consultants for the production, according to the South Carolina African American History website. Although Natalie was born and raised in the northeastern region of the country, she felt “at home” while visiting relatives in Beaufort, SC, in 1983. Shortly thereafter, she met and married Ron. Their productions focusing on Gullah heritage began following the release of Ron’s debut book, Reminiscences of Sea Island Heritage, in 1986. Since then, the Daise family has played a role in keeping the stories of the Gullah alive through various forms of art.

The “Matriarchs of the Lowcountry” series was inspired during the 2023 Charleston Wine + Food Festival and pays homage to six influential culinary figures: Emily Meggett, Martha Lou Gadsden, Albertha Grant, Sally Ann Robinson, Sara Green, and Charlotte Jenkins. These portraits were created as vibrant tributes to the women Daise refers to as the “patron saints” of Gullah cuisine. Each woman is depicted surrounded by dark green collard leaves, a signature detail Daise uses in many of her paintings. Dressed in vibrant attire and adorned with halos of woven sweetgrass and 24K gold leaf, Daise captured their spirit and contributions in a stunning visual narrative.

Natalie Daise expressed a profound connection to her subjects, saying, “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, underscored 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 took center stage at the museum’s recent event, Harvesting Heritage: Black Culinary Traditions in the Palmetto State, on May 18. This event not only showcased Daise’s artwork but also featured discussions with Daise, culinary historian Amethyst Ganaway, and Dr. Ramon Jackson, offering a deep dive into the rich culinary and cultural traditions of the Gullah community.

Because of Natalie Daise and the incredible women she honors through her art, the legacy of the Gullah community’s culinary matriarchs will continue to inspire and educate future generations.

Cover photo: Gullah Gullah Island’s Natalie Daise’s New Portrait Series Honoring the Mothers of South Carolina Debuts at State Museum / Credit: Self-portrait, Natalie Daise


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