Portrait officially unveiled on 25 January 2019
President Harris Pastides and Ms. Patricia Moore-Pastides
The University of South Carolina
Profiles in Portraiture
By John Seibels Walker
Having grown up in Columbia, in a neighborhood adjacent to the University of South Carolina, I frequently found the campus to be my playground. I was, therefore, especially honored in being chosen to paint the double portrait of current President Harris Pastides and his beautiful and accomplished wife, Patricia Moore-Pastides, and to be able to stage the portrait at the historic President’s House on the Horseshoe. The Board of Trustees wished to honor both Harris and Patricia in commissioning this portrait, in appreciation for their 11 years of excellent leadership and their many contributions to the University.
Their passion for the University and the President’s House, along with their many accomplishments while serving the University are reflected in several of the choices that we made while composing the portrait.
The garnet and black school colors of USC are well represented in both Harris and Patricia’s choice of attire. Harris is also wearing a very specific Carolina Gamecock pin on his lapel, which is intended to honor the Trustees and other special supporters of the University. It is a pin which he, as President, would not ordinarily wear, but would confer upon others. In addition, he is wearing Carolina Gamecock studs on his shirt and a 2010 College World Series Championship ring on his right ring finger, representing the many athletic championships that have been attained during his tenure.
Given their formal attire, a large room used for entertaining on the second floor of the President’s House was chosen as the setting for the painting. This room, which is used for formal receptions, includes a very distinctive French block-printed panoramic wallpaper from the early 1800’s in the Procession Chinoise pattern that I felt perfectly set off the rich tones of their clothing. Of special note, the figure in the wallpaper at Patricia’s side leads a celebratory procession led by a Carolina Gamecock, which was whimsically inserted ~ all in representation of the theme of the portrait as a celebration of their tenure at the University.
At the very center of the painting are the clasped hands of the Pastides, honoring the strength of their union and their special partnership. The still life arrangement to Harris’ side features peonies, Patricia’s favorite flower, from the President’s House gardens ~ gardens which Harris and Patricia have enthusiastically expanded. The flowers also represent their love of nature and their creation of a thriving organic vegetable garden from which they routinely serve presidential events and offer the produce at the Healthy Carolina farmers market. There are three books on the table, all authored by Patricia. Most recently published is, At Home in the Heart of the Horseshoe, describing her years as First Lady and the history of the President’s House. The other two books employ her degree in public health as they beautifully celebrate Harris’ Greek heritage, the University’s organic vegetable garden, and all of the many healthful benefits of a Mediterranean lifestyle and cuisine. Behind both the flowers and these books hangs the official President’s Medallion, which is worn with the President’s academic regalia at convocation and commencement ceremonies and at other special academic occasions in the life of the University.
The portrait is life-size, oil on linen, 68 x 50 inches. It hangs outside of the Presidential Dining Room in the USC Alumni Center in Columbia, South Carolina.