Indie Grits

Celebrating ten years of Indie Grits, we wanted to highlight Columbia’s defining feature–the lines of water coursing through our city built on rivers. those broad and deep imprints have long shaped the community’s culture and development.

But in early October of 2015, those rivers took a violent and unexpected turn. After historic rainfall, man-made dams failed, water lines streaked unexpectedly across urban landscapes, and we saw our neighbors’ homes submerged, our community changed overnight. Rivers swelled over banks and tore over what Columbia had built, leaving debris and fresh soil in its wake. The October floodwaters inflicted a trauma that is still ongoing. This event has given new meaning to our city’s relationship with water and directly affected our original vision for Indie Grits on the river.

Changing our original concept, we gathered a group of local and regional artists to explore these new relationships with our waterways and assist with the healing of our strong community. This group of artists formed Waterlines and was challenged to create new works in film, performance, transmedia, and public art, all commissioned by the Nickelodeon Theatre.

– seth gadsden, indie grits co-director


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“Things really culminated in the weeks proceeding our Blaktastik festival. We were all shocked when tragedy came to Mother Emanuel AME church in Charleston and we knew that the Nick needed to be a place where the community could gather to begin healing. Two packed screenings of Tom Hall’s Compromised were quickly scheduled and just a few days later the flag finally came down. Suddenly, our Blaktastik festival, which had been in the works for nearly two years, took on a whole new meaning. Intended as a celebration of new Black culture, the festival’s tremendous art, films and music now carried a deeper significance.

In no way would I try to attribute the momentous events of this past July to our programming here at the Nick, but on the Saturday night of Blaktastik, when I realized I was sitting on top of a freshly planted patch of grass where a certain flagpole stood just weeks before, I couldn’t have been more proud to be a part of an organization with such a long and dedicated history of using art to bring people together to have important conversations.”

– Excerpt from Nick Mag Issue #005, Letter from the Editor
Andy Smith, Executive Director


Art Docs

The following films are original works created for the series by local filmmakers.

"Painting, sculpture, and architecture are finished, but the art habit continues." These fiery words from the enigmatic land artist, Robert Smithson, act as the guiding voice behind our dynamic series, Art Docs.

– Seth Gadsden,
Series Curator

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Nikky Finney
Guest Curated Series

“I am a daughter of South Carolina and a daughter of that time in our history when American culture was changing-- whether it wanted to or not. Great upheavals and human movements were everywhere to be found. Black Power. Civil Rights. Gay and Lesbian. Women. Back to the farm. Spirituality. Jimi Hendrix in his velvet pants and vest. Richard Pryor's brilliant uncensored mouth and comedic mind. Black music was leaving the church for a larger public stage but still making you close your eyes. Black women were on the FBI's Most Wanted list and running for President of the United States. The core of who I am was born at this time of change. The 60's and 70's. Nina Simone singing "I Wish I Knew How It Felt To Be Free " is over 50 years old and it remains the song of my present life. It's the song I lean into today when I need to get back to my work desk. The song that grounds me when news arrives of the next gun massacre arrives. The biggest idea that ran through the great political and cultural movements of the 60's and 70's was the quest and question of freedom. What does it mean to be free? Can freedom be given to you? Can it be promised? When found should it be taken with two hands and run down the field? Each of these films speaks to that question and that search. I have become the woman and writer that I am because of my own search for what freedom looks, sounds, feels like. What I know now, after living in a world for so long that fears the power of truth, that has taught us to hunger for power and control, over insight and understanding, is my search for freedom goes on.”

– Nikky Finney, Series Curator

Screening Partners & Sponsors


The Annual Native American Indian Film & Video Festival of the South East

Boy Scouts of America
Columbia Jewish Film Festival

Dreams for Declan

The Faith Coalition Against Gun Violence

Mom’s Demand Action for Gun
Sense in America

Palmetto Trail

Planned Parenthood

Reel Paddling Film Festival

Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of SC

SC Autism Society

SC Coalition for Healthy Families


The State Newspaper

Tell Them!


University of South Carolina African American Studies Program

University of South Carolina College of Education

University of South Carolina School Of Journalism and Mass Communications

University of South Carolina Women’s and Gender Studies Program

Winston’s Wish