Charleston’s Neema Fine Art Gallery kicks off Neema Gallery Arts in Schools Program

A student poses with illustrator April Harrison

Neema Fine Art Gallery kicked off the start of its Arts in Schools Program with a highly anticipated visit by Neema Gallery artist and children’s book illustrator, April Harrison at James Simons Elementary on March 1, 2019. April shared her journey into becoming an artist and new children’s book to two groups of 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders in the school library (approximately 125 in all) before reading and signing copies of her newly release book, “What is Given From the Heart.” The visit was coordinated and facilitated by Meisha Johnson, CEO and Founder of Neema Fine Art Gallery, located at 3 Broad St. in the Historic District of Charleston, SC. 

The school visit was followed by an artist opening reception that evening at Neema Fine Art Gallery for Harrison’s exhibit “Nutured, Bonded & Spiritual: The Artistry of April Harrison.” The exhibit will run through the entire month of March.

Meisha Johnson, CEO and Founder of Neema Fine Art Gallery, hopes to help nurture the next generation of fine artists, creatives and art appreciators through the Neema Gallery Arts in Schools Program. The program will provide innovative and exceptionally enriching arts experiences to children in schools throughout Charleston and surrounding areas with a particular concentration on schools that service children who reside in the Eastside of the Charleston peninsula.

April Harrison, of Greenville is a self-taught artist who by her own admission is “merely a vessel being utilized to instinctively create narrative, sentiment and observation.” She is known for her “With Closed Eyes” style and imagery where the viewer is taken on a “journey into a place where time stands still, and life’s special moments, felt by special caresses, tender touches, and fond memories, transport you into a state of inner spirituality, focusing on the nurtured, bonded and spiritual.” Her work is in the public collections of Vanderbilt University, Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center, the Atlanta Housing Authority, and the Erskine University Museum, and in many private collections including that of Whoopi Goldberg, Honorable Ruth Simmons, Honorable Andrew Young, Jesse L. Martin and Shaun Robinson.

James Simons Elementary students with April Harrison

Her work has also been featured on the set of several well known television shows and feature films. Most recently, her work is a part of the living room set of Nickelodeon’s K.C. Undercover featuring teen acting and singing sensation, Zendaya and actor, Kadeem Hardison. “What is Given from the Heart,” was released in Jan. 2019 by Random House and is April’s first children’s book. 

The book was written by legendary children’s book author, Patricia McKissack  who died in 2017, leaving “What is Given From the Heart” behind as her final work. McKissack is the author of many lauded books for children, including “Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout,” a Parents Choice Gold Award winner, a New York Public Library, School Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year. She is also a three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner and Newbery Honor author. McKissack’s final magnificent picture book is a poignant and uplifting celebration of the joy of giving. 

“Misery loves company,” Mama says to James Otis. It’s been a rough couple of months for them, but Mama says as long as they have their health and strength, they’re blessed. One Sunday before Valentine’s Day, Reverend Dennis makes an announcement during the service: the Temples have lost everything in a fire, and the church is collecting anything that might be useful to them. 

James thinks hard about what he can add to the Temples’“love box,” but what does he have worth giving? 

With her extraordinary gift for storytelling, McKissack—with stunning illustrations by Harrison—delivers a touching, powerful tale of compassion and reminds us that what is given from the heart reaches the heart.

April Harrison 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, the gallery opened its doors on Dec. 1, 2018 with a mission to help diversify who shops on the peninsula, increase diversity in terms of the artists who are represented in galleries on the peninsula and help increase the number of successful minority owned businesses on the peninsula. CEO and Founder, Meisha Johnson who also is an artist, arts educator and former special needs teacher, also desires to help address challenges faced by children, families and the elderly who reside in the Eastside of Charleston through innovative arts programming, philanthropy and community organization partnerships. 

On June 9th, 2019 Neema Gallery will partner with the Philip Simmons Foundation to host a birthday celebration in honor of legendary Charleston blacksmith and humanitarian, Philip Simmons who passed in 2009. The event will be held at Neema Fine Art Gallery and will include an art exhibit and silent auction of works created by SC artists commemorating the life, work and legacy of Philip Simmons. Funds raised from the exhibit will go towards the establishment of a Philip Simmons Children & Youth Scholars Program that will provide children and youth residing in the Eastside of Charleston with exceptionally enriching and empowering experiences that will help to nurture their God-given gifts and set them on a path to acquiring generational wealth. 

For additional information, contact Meisha Johnson, Owner, Currator & Gallery Director at Neema Fine Art a Gallery at [email protected] and (843) 353-8079 

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