Family Remembers USC Professor Through Art

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) – This weekend, a photography exhibit opens highlighting Toby Morriss’ work. The USC professor was killed in a hit and run accident back in February. For the first time since an arrest was made, Morriss’ family is speaking out.

Andrea Morriss says, “We were always excited to see what new way he had come up with to show his photographs.” Andrea and Mike Morriss have always come to help their son Toby Morriss set up his photography exhibits. But this is the first time Toby is not with them.

Andrea says, “He died too young. We had lots more questions and fun and time to be together.” However, that time ended abruptly one February night when Toby, a USC photography professor, was riding his motorcycle down Knox Abbott Drive in Cayce. Toby was hit by a truck, according to investigators. He died a week later. It took detectives three months to find the vehicle with a sawed-off door and the man they say was behind the wheel, 45 year old William Craig Caughman. Andrea is relieved an arrest has been made, but it also brought back her nightmare. She says, “We felt almost like we did when we found out he was dead. It re-opened everything.”

Andrea hopes a new exhibit featuring Toby’s photographs and hand-made cameras will help them focus on his legacy. Toby’s friend, Eric Plaag, says, “Toby transformed things for me and opened up my eyes as a photographer.” Plaag, Toby’s student and friend, put together the exhibit. Andrea’s tears show she is very touched by the support she’s received from the USC community. She and Plaag are trying not to focus on the way Toby died, but the way he lived. Plaag says of the new exhibit, “I think he would probably say ‘dude, you’re doing way to much, I don’t need this attention.’ At the same time, he’d be really excited we’re doing this.” When people come to the McKissick museum, Toby’s mom says she hopes they will be inspired, just as Toby inspired his students.

The art exhibit featuring Toby Morriss’s work starts Saturday, August 28 and runs through December 18 at USC’s McKissick Art Museum. Admission is free. The museum is open Monday-Friday 8:30 am-5pm and Saturdays 11am-3pm.