The Art of Gullah Spirit
by Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green is best known for his vibrant depictions of the Gullah life and culture established by descendants of enslaved Africans who settled between northern Florida and North Carolina during the nineteenth century. For decades, Green's vividly colored paintings and prints have captured and preserved the daily rituals and Gullah traditions of his childhood in the Lowcountry marshes of South Carolina.
While Green's art continues to express the same energy, color, and deep respect for his ancestors, his techniques have evolved to feature bolder brush strokes and a use of depth and texture, all guided by his maturing artistic vision that is now more often about experiencing freedom and contentment through his art. This vision is reflected in the 179 new paintings featured in Gullah Spirit. His open and inviting images beckon the world to not only see this vanishing culture but also to embrace its truth and enduring spirit.
Using both the aesthetics of his heritage and the abstraction of the human figure, Green creates an almost mythological narrative from his everyday observations of rural and urban environments. Expressed through his mastery of color, Green illuminates the challenges and beauty of work, love, belonging, and the richness of community.
Angela D. Mack, executive director of the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina, provides a foreword. The book also includes short essays by historian Walter B. Edgar, educator Kim Cliett Long, and curator Kevin Grogan.