This year’s MOJA Arts Festival poster vibrates with emotion and texture. Although it’s a two-dimensional image, it seems to thrum with a pounding drum rhythm. You can feel the movement of dancing. Vibrant colors pleasantly sting your eyes. The piece, commissioned this year, offers a rich multidimensional texture created by Bluffton artist Amiri Gueka Farris that shimmers, haunts and spins.
Called “MOJA Dance: Past, present and future,” the work was created in September for the Festival, which runs Sept. 29-Oct. 9 in Charleston.
“The piece is about moving from the past into a positive future,” Farris said. “So you can see elements of dance and celebration and also elements of Gullah Geechee and Caribbean culture.”
Farris, an accomplished 47-year-old artist who has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from the Savannah College of Art and Design, said viewers should look for different symbols in the piece, such as the Ghanaian sankofa, swirls, snakes and more.
“There’s a sweetgrass basket at the top and there are the three faces that represent MOJA from the logo,” he said. “There are dancers and music symbols and different things that I thought would emulate and talk about the festival.”
Farris, who uses a wide range of media in his contemporary works, has been getting a lot of exposure in the Charleston area lately. In March, the Medical University of South Carolina opened a year-long exhibition on the hospital’s second floor that includes several works from Farris’s Indigo series as part of Heirlooms: The Black South Collection.
“The collection begins with ‘The Stories We Define’, a collaged painting depicting a mother reading to her child,” said MUSC art collection assistant Noah Williams. “This piece anchors the collection and encourages viewers to resort back to a place learning, hearing a story and embracing traditions passed down.
“At the very end of the space, you see two of Amiri’s self-portraits, ‘Yellow American’ and ‘Magenta American,’ are painted on top of layered and rich cultural references ranging from sweetgrass baskets to comics.”
Next month on Oct. 24, Farris will start a five-week residency at the Gibbes Museum of Art in downtown Charleston. He’s going to work on a piece using older paintings and clippings to depict the rhythm of life.
“I’ll be working on a big piece in the study that people will be able to come in and see me working,” he said. His residency will end Dec. 5.
Through the years, the artist’s work has been featured across the country in more than 50 solo exhibitions and juried museum exhibitions. He’s been shown in past MOJA Arts Festival shows and once served as the judge of one of its juried exhibitions.
For more information, visit AmariFarris.com.
You can view this year’s poster for free at the City Gallery, 34 Prioleau St., Charleston. Hours
are noon to 5 p.m. from Sept. 29 through Oct. 9.
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