S.C. Arts Awards: Tyrone Geter

2019 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2019 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is taking 15 days to focus on this year’s recipients: nine receiving the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts and five receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at UofSC. In between the two groups, we’ll run a special feature on S.C. Arts Awards sponsor Colonial Life.


Tyrone Geter

Artist Category

Photo by Drew Baron

In a career that spreads across two continents, Tyrone Geter has built an international reputation as a world-class artist, painter, sculptor, illustrator, and teacher. Recently retired associate professor of art at Benedict College in Columbia, Geter grew up in Anniston, Ala., during a time defined by strict segregation laws and social injustice. Anniston was a site of numerous acts of racial violence during the Civil Rights Era. The immediacy of these events and an inherited legacy of spiritual strength and fortitude against all the odds inform and shape Geter’s work.

He received his Master of Fine Arts from Ohio University in 1978 with an emphasis on painting and drawing. An exceptional draftsman, his portraits are sensitive, timeless, and masterfully executed. Their power, displayed through their expression, gesture and adornments, seem often suspended in an otherworldly environment. Equal to the history his figures embody, they also speak of a spiritual world overflowing with compassions and empathy. In this regard his work is uniquely distinctive.

In 1979, Geter relocated to Zaria, Nigeria.  For seven years he lived, drew and painted among the Fulani and other local peoples of Northern Nigeria. During this period, he created numerous paintings that captured the richness and depth of the cultures of the region. He describes the experience as an experience that taught him “to understand the nature of life in a society where life was nature and sometimes both hard and cruel.” Further, he experienced “a lesson in the creative process that no art school would ever teach me.”

Those years in Nigeria proved to be a turning point in his development and the most important influence in his life and art. In 1987 he returned to the U.S. and a teaching position at the University of Akron, where he transformed his experience in Nigeria into the most powerful work of his career.

His work has been exhibited at the Columbia Museum of Art, Florence County Museum, and WaterFront Gallery (Charleston) in South Carolina, and Center for Afro-American Artists (Boston), Butler Institute for American Art (Youngstown, Ohio), Hampton Institute College Museum (Hampton, Va.), and Museum of Fine Art (Boston) to name a few. His honors include placing first at Moja Arts Festival and in the Robert Duncanson Award from Taft Museum (Cincinnati), and he received an artist fellowship grant from Foundation for the Arts and Humanities (Boston) and a grant from Columbus (Ohio) Arts Council.

For more, visit TyroneGeter.com.


South Carolina Arts Awards Day is Wednesday, May 1, 2019. The festivities begin at 10 a.m. with a reception that leads up to the awards ceremony at the UofSC Alumni Center (900 Senate St., Columbia). The event is free and open to the public. Following the ceremony, the South Carolina Arts Foundation honors the recipients and the arts community at the S.C. Arts Awards Luncheon and Art Sale. Tickets are $50. Please go here for more information and reservations.


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