Gullah Islander Toss by Amiri Gueka Farris
The City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department is pleased to announce Bluffton, SC, artist, Amiri Geuka Farris, as the winner of the 2014 North Charleston Arts Festival Design Competition. As the winner of the statewide contest, Farris’ mixed media piece, titled Gullah Islander Toss, will be used to promote the 2014 North Charleston Arts Festival, taking place May 2-10. In addition, the piece will become part of the City’s Public Art Collection.
Farris’ design was selected from a total of 53 entries by artists from across the state. The selection was made by a review panel appointed by the Cultural Arts Department who judged the entries based on quality, originality, appeal to festival patrons from a broad range of backgrounds, and ability to convey the spirit of the festival as a public celebration of arts and culture.
According to Farris, Gullah Islander Toss honors the traditions of the Gullah-Geechee culture and is also an attempt to draw a greater focus to what he calls “a celebration of history.” “You will see elements like dance and rejoicing with references to important cultural elements like the land, cast net making, trowing and artistic traditions,” he explains. The piece is composed of a number of layers that involve design elements such as Adinkra symbols, paint drips, and paint embellishments. The dynamism of these elements represents the passing of time and movement into the future. As with many of Farris’ other works, the piece makes reference to specific Gullah traditions and historic elements while blurring the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation.
About the Artist
Amiri Geuka Farris received his Masters of Fine Art in Painting, with his B.F.A in Illustration and Graphic Design, from the Savannah College of Art and Design and is currently a Professor of Fine Arts at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort. He is known for dynamic, powerful artwork that combines an alluring blend of vivid colors, layered textures, and a signature use of Adinkra symbols. The images of Sea Island culture that are evoked in his work introduce viewers to uplifting moments and insight into his contemporary view of culture. At the heart of Amiri’s artistic vision is the desire to capture the essence and tell the history of the Gullah-Geechee people and their way of life. His dedication to that vision was rewarded in 2012 when he was the co-recipient of a very prestigious award for preservation from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
In addition to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Amiri’s work has been exhibited and displayed in permanent collections nationally and internationally. He was named the 2008 “Artist of the Year” by the historic Penn Center on St. Helena Island, and is the current artist-in-residence at the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island. His client list includes numerous cultural, educational, and commercial organizations including the Telfair Museum of Art, The Savannah Children’s Museum, Hilton Head/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, Youth Opera International, the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island, Historic Penn Center Landmark, Savannah Jazz Festival, Heritage Jazz Festival, The Boys & Girls Club, The Coastal Discovery Museum, and many others.
Amiri’s art studio, located at the Sea Island Art Center at the University of South Carolina’s Beaufort campus, is open by appointment. For more info about the artist, visit amiristudio.com.
View the Work
An exhibition of Amiri’s work, including the winning piece, Gullah Islander Toss, will be on display at the North Charleston City Gallery throughout the month of May 2014. The gallery is located within the Charleston Area Convention Center at 5001 Coliseum Drive in North Charleston. Gallery hours are 9:00am-5:00pm daily and admission and parking are free. The public is invited to meet the artist at the gallery on May 3 and 4 during the Main Event of the North Charleston Arts Festival. T-shirts and posters featuring the winning design will be available for sale.