North Charleston Arts Festival design competition winner announced

amirifarrisThe City of North Charleston Cultural Arts Department is pleased to announce Bluffton, S.C, artist Amiri Geuka Farris as the winner of the 2014 North Charleston Arts Festival Design Competition. Farris’ mixed media piece, “Gullah Islander Toss,” will be used to promote the Arts Festival, taking place May 2-10. In addition, the piece will become part of the City’s Public Art Collection.

Gullah Islander Toss

Gullah Islander Toss

Farris’ design was selected from 53 entries by artists from across the state. The review panel judged the entries based on quality, originality, appeal to festival patrons from a broad range of backgrounds, and ability to convey the spirit of the festival as a public celebration of arts and culture.

According to Farris, “Gullah Islander Toss” honors the traditions of the Gullah-Geechee culture and is also an attempt to draw a greater focus to what he calls “a celebration of history.”

“You will see elements like dance and rejoicing with references to important cultural elements like the land, cast net making, and artistic traditions,” he explains.

The piece is composed of a number of layers that involve design elements such as Adinkra symbols, paint drips, and paint embellishments. The dynamism of these elements represents the passing of time and movement into the future. As with many of Farris’ works, the piece makes reference to specific Gullah traditions and historic elements while blurring the boundaries between traditional and contemporary modes of representation.

In addition to the Smithsonian Museum of American Art, Farris’ work has been exhibited and displayed in permanent collections nationally and internationally. He was named the 2008 “Artist of the Year” by the historic Penn Center on St. Helena Island and is the current artist-in-residence at the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island. His client list includes numerous cultural, educational, and commercial organizations including the Telfair Museum of Art, The Savannah Children’s Museum, Hilton Head/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, Youth Opera International, the Gullah Museum of Hilton Head Island, Historic Penn Center Landmark, Savannah Jazz Festival, Heritage Jazz Festival, The Boys & Girls Club, The Coastal Discovery Museum, and many others.

His work is currently featured locally in an exhibition curated by Jonathan Green titled “Spirit & Memory: Contemporary Expressions of Cultural Heritage,” on view at the City Gallery at Waterfront Park in Downtown Charleston. Farris’ art studio, located at the Sea Island Art Center at the University of South Carolina’s Beaufort campus, is open by appointment.

Farris’ work, including the winning piece, will be on display at the North Charleston City Gallery throughout the month of May 2014. The gallery is located within the Charleston Area Convention Center at 5001 Coliseum Drive in North Charleston. Gallery hours are 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. daily and admission and parking are free. The public is invited to meet the artist at the gallery on May 3 and 4 during the Main Event of the North Charleston Arts Festival. T-shirts and posters featuring the winning design will be available for sale.

For more information about the North Charleston Arts Festival, call (843)740-5854, email, or visit

Via: North Charleston Cultural Arts Department