“I’m a color theorist, so I try to combine colors that uplift,” said multimedia artist Amiri Gueka Farris who is best known for his assemblages of brightly colored patterns, textures, and forms. “People say they’re very attracted to my work because of the color palette that I use, and that’s one of my goals as an artist is to uplift the viewer.” His bold, multidimensional works require viewing from different vantage points. From afar, they appear abstract. Move closer, and new forms emerge from within the layers.
“Dreaming Savannah” is a special solo exhibition of new work by Farris as part of the Grand Bohemian Gallery’s annual Savannah Series. The series highlights the work of local artists who capture the quality and character of life in this corner of the world. For Farris, this exhibition is an opportunity to celebrate the cultural abundance of our coastal population: “It’s definitely inspired by Savannah with the different melding of cultures – the historic and the new; the creative communities; the new energy and influx of people we see; people from the Savannah College of Art and Design; visitors from around the world and then people who have been here like the Gullah-Geechee community. All of those elements influence the work that I was creating.”
Farris has been an artist all his life. Without an art school in West Palm Beach where Farris grew up, his parents enrolled him into an after-school art program at the Armory Art Center.
He would also spend time at the now-closed Quest Theatre where he’d create large-scale works for set designs. Hooked by his passion, he entered competitions, won awards and eventually had his work displayed in the Capitol Building in D.C. This was all before his formal education with SCAD where he earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration and Master of Fine Arts in Painting. As a professional artist, his work has been shown in galleries and museums across the world, and he teaches art education to all ages including part-time work at universities including SCAD.
Photo courtesy of Amiri Geuka Farris
Amiri Geuka Farris will be the featured artist at Grand Bohemian Gallery at The Mansion on Forsyth Park from June 10 through July 9.
In addition to his creative pursuits, Farris is an advocate for Gullah-Geechee culture and traditions. “I work with different communities throughout the Gullah-Geechee Corridor which extends from North Carolina down to Florida,” he said. “I talk, show my artwork, and try to educate people on the culture in Hilton Head, Beaufort, Charleston and Sapelo Island. It’s a big part of my work, but I don’t want to be known only as a Gullah-Geechee artist. I’m a contemporary artist.”
“Dreaming Savannah” includes a small dancer series reflecting Gullah-Geechee influences, but most of the pieces in this exhibition are inspired by the concept of Bohemianism. They celebrate nature, Savannah’s eccentricity and his own joyously unrestrained style. “It’s about being carefree and connected with the land and just having that as a lifestyle,” he said. “That Bohemian train of thought goes perfectly with what I’m doing because I just let things go in my paintings. You’ll initially see a lot of paint drips and expressive brush strokes, and when you look deeper into the painting, you’ll start to see some things that are recognizable.”
The opening reception for “Dreaming Savannah” takes place on June 11 from 6-9 p.m. at Cedar House Gallery and is free and open to the public. The exhibition will be available for viewing daily at the Grand Bohemian Gallery at the Mansion at Forsyth Park from June 10 to July 9 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or by appointment.