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Columbia African-American Artist Debuts Powerful New Work at the CMA

Columbia, S.C. – The Columbia Museum of Art is proud to present the major spring exhibition Enduring Spirit: The Art of Tyrone Geter, on view from Friday, March 3, throughSunday, June 11, showcasing an all-new series of works from esteemed Columbia artist Tyrone Geter. The approximately two dozen large-scale charcoal and pastel drawings are the latest manifestations of Geter’s lifelong goal of ardently describing the black experience in America through his uniquely personal and profound art.

“Tyrone Geter is a visual poet,” says CMA Chief Curator Will South. “His art speaks to the black experience, an experience germane to everyone. Visitors can enjoy and be inspired by his technical skills but also learn from his insightful commentary on issues of identity.”

Enduring Spirit highlights not only the artist’s immense talent as a draftsman but also the passion and compassion with which he approaches his subjects. Finely wrought and highly expressionistic, his work provokes dialogue about social justice, race and racism, gender, personal power, and the human condition in a manner that is confrontational without being antagonistic.

Though frequently abounding in abstraction and fantasy, Geter’s art is firmly anchored in figuration. “Throughout my career,” he says, “the human form has been the mechanism that makes it possible for me to speak my truth about my life, my beliefs, and the varied and colorful histories of my people.” With each and every piece, Geter seeks to capture and reveal the dignity of the individual.

Enduring Spirit consists of singular pieces as well as series of works. For example, the series of pastels Four Women (A Tribute to Nina Simone) illustrates the discourse and activism of the iconic jazz musician through the narrative of one of her most significant songs. The exhibition also includes the awe-inspiring piece I Done Old, I Done Tire, But I Ain’t No Ways Done, a recent CMA acquisition. Some drawings are rendered in stark black and white, others in full, brilliant color; many are compositionally enhanced with collaged torn paper.

The artist’s work is heavily influenced by his mother, who grew up in the early 20th century amid racial discrimination, poverty, and illiteracy. Through her love, compassion, and desire to do the right thing, she passed her legacy on to her children. Geter cites that legacy as the fundamental guiding principle of his art and life, saying, “My work is compassion, hope, justice, and perseverance, things I learned from my mother.”

Geter grew up in Anniston, Alabama, which he describes as “a place where finishing high school was in some circles considered the epitome of higher education.” He received his MFA in painting from Ohio University in 1978. After living and working in Boston, Ohio, and Nigeria, he made Columbia, South Carolina his home. He has been an associate professor of drawing and painting at Benedict College and director of the school’s Ponder Gallery since 1997. His art has been exhibited and included in public and private collections throughout the world.

“Geter’s art is bold and monumental yet subtle and symbolic,” says South. “There is no substitution for the direct experience of his work.”

Enduring Spirit: The Art of Tyrone Geter is presented through the generosity of our sponsors and grantors. Presenting Sponsor: Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A. Supporting Sponsors: Dr. and Mrs. Benjamin M. Gimarc. Friend Sponsors: Mrs. Barbara B. Boyd and The Friends of African American Art & Culture. Patron Sponsors: Leslie and Jeff Archie, Benedict College, Ellison Kibler & Associates at Merrill Lynch, Jeryl and Tenesia Salmond, Dr. Lemuel Watson and Mr. Gerard Erley, and Susan Thorpe and John Baynes. Grantors: South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation & Tourism and Richland County. Additional support for the CMA exhibition program is provided by Lipscomb Sponsors: SCE&G and Marcia and Allen Montgomery.

For more information, visit columbiamuseum.org/exhibitions/enduring-spirit.
For high-res images, visit columbiamuseum.org/about/newsroom/press-kits

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