Jonathan Green: Artist, Activist, Historian PDF Print E-mail
Written by Staff Writer   
Monday, 09 September 2013 09:44

Jonathan Green is considered by many art critics and reviewers to be one of the most important painters of the Southern experience. Green’s work, which has been exhibited at major national and international venues, reflects a deep sense of history and place.

A mature artist in his forties, he has been noted in hundreds of art reviews and publications, perhaps the most noteworthy inGullah Images: The Art of Jonathan Green, by the University of South Carolina Press. Like other master artists such as Edward Hopper, Elizabeth Catlett, Romare Bearden, and Jacob Lawrence, Jonathan Green captures and records an essential part of American culture.

Born and raised in Gardens Corner, a rural community not far from Beaufort, Green attended Huspah Baptist Church, a reincarnation of the Tabernacle Church founded by Robert Smalls. From an early age, he was made aware of history and celebrated his cultural inheritance, he said:

"In the Windy City, where he attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, he became active in politics, then disenchanted by the city’s political turmoil, he said. Still, it left him with a clear notion that art must take politics into account.

After 10 years living in Chicago and more than two decades in Naples, Fla., Green is coming home to the Lowcountry.

The artist, widely known for his use of intense colors and emotional explorations of Gullah culture, will take up residence on Daniel Island by the end of July, he said:

”The move is partly a consequence of a restless artistic temperament. I’m returning to Charleston because I think I’ve done enough in Naples as an artist and resident,” he said. “I have to move around a little bit … to gain experience and knowledge.

Green, whose work has been featured at the Gibbes Museum and other institutions, is an art activist, promoting the idea that art education should be an intrinsic component of any school curriculum.

"People just don’t understand the importance of the arts," Green said.

"Black culture in particular is poorly represented in the world of visual arts, yet exposure to painting, a universal language everyone can understand, is a critical way to learn about identity, faith, history and contributions to society, he said.

"We focus strongly on everybody else’s culture," he said, adding that it’s time to do a better job presenting black culture.

Avery Research Center for African American History and Culture invites you to join them in welcoming an exhibit by Green entitled "UNENSLAVED: Rice Culture Paintings by Jonathan Green."

UNENSLAVED is a body of work inspired by Lowcountry rice culture and Green’s involvement with The Lowcountry Rice Culture Project. The exhibition will feature 25 of Green’s original works that highlight the prominence and prevalence of rice and its lasting impact on culture in the South Carolina Lowcountry. FREE and open to the public. The exhibition will be on view at the Avery Research Center through December 15, 2013.