Two styles, one subject: Artists team up for Gullah exhibit

jpaprocki@islandpacket.comJuly 20, 2012 

  • "Looking Back, Rising Forward: Honoring the History of the Gullah-Geechee Islands" runs through Sept. 10 at the Coastal Discovery Museum on Hilton Head Island.

    Details: 843-689-6767, www.coastaldiscovery.org

They work in different media, but in spirit, they say, their art is the same.

Painter Amiri Farris and sculptor Judy Mooney exhibit new work in "Looking Back, Rising Forward: Honoring the History of the Gullah-Geechee Islands" at the Coastal Discovery Museum.

"Our work goes well together," Mooney said. "Both of us are interested in the spirit of the Gullah people and celebrating that spirit."

The two artists have known each other for years, but this is their first dual exhibit. When Farris was approached about showing at the museum, he asked whether Mooney also could display her sculpture. Farris' colorful Gullah scenes serves as a contrast to Mooney's sculpture in bronze and clay.

But both display everyday life of the Gullah people.

"I've always felt our work was very similar, even though it is in two different genres," Farris said.

Both arrived at creating Gullah art from two different backgrounds.

Farris' great-grandparents were from South Carolina, but he grew up in Pennsylvania and Florida, only hearing about Gullah traditions through story. He moved to Savannah to study art and stayed to teach. He's currently teaching at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort. His work has been shown around the world, including in the U.S. Capitol.

Mooney was born in Louisiana, working in community development for the YMCA in Charlotte. She only started sculpting about 10 years ago when she returned to school to study art in retirement. She heard a Gullah storyteller once and became captivated by the culture. She now works as a studio artist in Savannah, frequently showing in the Lowcountry.

"It's an interest that's just grown inside me throughout the years," she said.

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Judy Mooney

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Coastal Discovery Museum

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