Neema Gallery artist, illustrator, and educator Tyrone Geter has accepted an invitation from The Corporation of Yaddo to participate in a three week residency at the prestigious Yaddo in Saratoga Springs, New York from February 21-March 13, 2019. In accepting the invitation, Geter will join the ranks of some of the world’s most accomplished and iconic artists in both 20th and 21st centuries who have taken up residency at Yaddo. American novelist and short story writer John Cheever wrote that the “forty or so acres on which the principal buildings of Yaddo stand have seen more distinguished activity in the arts than any other piece of ground in the English-speaking community and perhaps the world.” Collectively, Yaddo artists have won 74 Pulitzer Prizes, 29 MacArthur Fellowships, 68 National Book Awards, and a Nobel Prize. Notable Yaddo artists through the turn of the millennium include James Baldwin, Jacob Lawrence, Langston Hughes, Leonard Bernstein, Truman Capote, Aaron Copland, Philip Guston, Patricia Highsmith, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, Martin Puryear, Katherine Anne Porter, Amy Sillman, Clyfford Still, and David Foster Wallace. More recent guests include Terry Adkins, Laurie Anderson, Jeffrey Eugenides, Sheri Fink, and Matthew Weiner. Yaddo currently welcomes approximately 220 guests a year from all over the world. Though much has changed since 1900, Yaddo’s mission has remained constant. In recent years the Board of Directors has reasserted Yaddo’s commitment to aesthetic daring, social egalitarianism and internationalism, and the support of artists at political risk.
In a career that spans across two continents, Tyrone Geter has built an international reputation as a world-class artist, painter, sculptor, illustrator and teacher. The recently retired Associate Professor of Art at Benedict College in Columbia, SC, grew up in Anniston, Alabama, during a time defined by strict segregation laws and social injustice. With a population of less that 25,000, 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.
Geter received his Master’s of Fine Art from Ohio University in 1978 with an emphasis on painting and drawing. In 1979, Tyrone Geter relocated to his beloved and deceased wife’s home country of Zaria, Nigeria, a move that proved to be a turning point in his development and growth as an artist. For seven years he lived, drew and painted among the Fulani and local people of Northern Nigeria. During this period he created numerous paintings that captured the richness and depth of the cultures of Northern Nigeria. 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.” Those seven years in Nigeria proved to be the most important influence in his life and art. He returned to the United States in 1987 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, Columbia, SC, Florence Museum of Art, Florence, SC, WaterFront Gallery, Charleston, SC, Center for Afro-American Artists, Boston, MA; Butler Institute for American Art, Youngstown, OH; Hampton Institute College Museum, Hampton, VA; Museum of Fine Art, Boston, MA, to name a few. His honors include first place, Moja Arts Festival, Charleston, SC; first place Robert Duncanson Award from Taft Museum, Cincinnati, OH; artist fellowship grant from Foundation for the Arts and Humanities, Boston, MA and grant from Columbus, Ohio Arts Council.
Edmund Barry Gaither, director and curator of the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists, and consultant at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is quoted as saying, “Geter has distinguished himself as a consummate realist able to render in spirit and form a world of peoples–especially black people. His eyes, honed over decades, miss no characteristic gestures, nor do they overlook any hidden features of peculiar interest. His grasp of color allows him to express skin tones with unmatched radiance and accuracy. His hands deftly outline with elegance and power the physical features of his subjects.” Gaither goes on to say, “It cannot be questioned that he knows how to construct space, and fill it with figures and artifacts whether drawn or painted, of exceptional beauty and grace. In short, Geter is a fully developed wizard of his media, endowed with enormous psychological perception and intellectual wit, and he has shown repeatedly that he can coral these powers in the production of his art.” Gaither concludes that, “Tyrone Geter creates compositions that indisputably speak of black realities from black perspectives, while they are also profoundly American. Through pathos, humor and acidic commentary, Geter’s art presents a new visual vocabulary for America’s intractable problems of racial justice, social acceptance, and collective healing.”
Will South, chief curator of the Columbia museum said, “Geter explores through his art the thorny issue of uniting different ethnicities in America and understanding each other without stereotypes. Tyrone takes that on,” South said. “He’s not a politician, and yet he is. By default, he makes statements that people listen to, and that’s powerful.”
Geter himself said, “My work is not supposed to allow you to walk past and not feel. I believe that one of our problems in society is that we’ve learned not to care. We see something happening to someone, we say ‘oh, wow, that’s too bad,’ and you go on about your business and that keeps happening. Mine was to make us feel like we are one with the human race.”
Tyrone Geter is represented by Neema Fine Art Gallery, Charleston, South Carolina’s newest art gallery featuring original works of art by both established and standout emerging African-American artists who are from or who currently reside in South Carolina. Located at 3 Broad St., Ste. 100, and positioned at the start of Charleston’s Historic Gallery Row, ironically Neema Fine Art Gallery is located in the former home of Walkers, Evans and Cogswell, printers of lithograph copies of the Articles of Secession and Confederate money and bonds. It is rumored that the basement of 3 Broad was also part of the Underground Railroad. Gallery owner, Meisha Johnson says she, “can’t think of a better artist on which to bestow the honor of a residency at Yaddo upon at this critical point in history than artist, illustrator and educator Tyrone Geter. Tyrone consistently and unequivocally produces groundbreaking work that affirms, uplifts, challenges and reveals, consequently creating a path to racial and social healing. We look forward to seeing what works Tyrone is inspired to create as a result of his experience at Yaddo.”