Andrew Blanchard: Saturday Night, Sunday Morning
Cedric Umoja: That Old Black Gospel
Dogon Krigga: Afroglyph
The Sumter County Gallery of Art is excited to present three artists with very different perspectives on what it means to be a visual artist in the South and how these differences are expressed through their imagery.
Andrew Blanchard was born in the wild swamps of Louisiana, though was raised in Waveland, a small beach community on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Like most boys who grew up close to a beach, he fished and swam until the ring of the dinner bell. At a young age, he became fascinated with the bold, curvilinear woodcuts of another Mississippi coast native, Walter Anderson. From this early inspiration, he established his love for printmaking.
Blanchard earned a B.A. degree from the University of Southern Mississippi in 2000 with an emphasis on printmaking and a minor in photography. Shortly thereafter, he traveled to Paris, France to work and study with Frederic Possot, a master lithography printer. This experience solidified his desire to be a lifelong artist-printmaker. In 2004, he earned his M.F.A. from The University of Mississippi in Oxford.
Blanchard’s work was recently added to the permanent collections of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans and the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, and it is featured or forthcoming in magazines including Ecotone, Electric Dirt, Printmakers Today, New American Paintings, the International Painting Annual (nos. 4 and 7), and the Oxford American, which in 2012 named him among the New Superstars of Southern Art.
Blanchard is currently an Associate Professor of Studio Art at Converse College in Spartanburg, SC.
Blanchard is perhaps best known for taking familiar, stereotypical signifiers of rural roads and the small-town South and flattening them into one another through the process of printmaking. Somehow, through this juxtaposition, they manage to avoid one-dimensionality. The Sumter exhibition will also include three-dimensional “totems” – assemblages of Southern artifacts.
Blanchard will give a gallery talk the night of the opening.
Cedric Umoja is a hybrid Westerner and Southerner. He was born and raised in California but moved to South Carolina after high school. He was drawn to art at an early age with hip-hop and comic books being his biggest influence.
Elements of graffiti, Neo-Expressionism, Afro-Surrealism, comic sequential art, Japanese manga and Afrofuturism have played a role in his artistic development and can also be found in his work. Umoja developed his style under the instruction of Tony Cacalano, a Yale MFA and visual artist. Umoja cites his influences as Dondi White, Sam Kieth, Max Beckmann, Amedeo Modigliani, Ernie Barnes, Sun Ra and Hans Hoffman.
Umoja has been included in several important solo and group exhibitions including “Libation” City Gallery, Charleston, SC, 2017 (which he curated), “We Bleed Too!” Goodall Gallery, Columbia College, 2016, “MNI WICONI” Tangent Gallery, Detroit, MI, 2017, “Gallery Twenty-Two, Charlotte, NC, 2016 and “Beyonder” FAB gallery, South Carolina State University, Orangeburg, SC, 2013. Umoja is also a community activist and street artist who has been involved in several public art projects including “23 Million Miles, Millwood Avenue Corridor, Columbia, SC, 2017 and “Duality” Mission District, San Francisco, CA, 2016 and 2015.
Jacqueline Adams, Gallery coordinator of Umoja’s exhibition “We Bleed Too” at Columbia College notes, “People can expect to see work from Cedric that is still in his classic street style aesthetic, but what they will encounter conceptually is something a little bit deeper and a little bit more challenging. The issues are about contemporary race struggles from a black male artist, which I think is very powerful to put on display.”
Umoja Artist statement: “That Old Black Gospel” reflects particular truths expressed and experienced by the Black diaspora around the world. These truths experienced gives birth to ritual and how it’s engaged in the most unsuspecting moments in the lives of a people, who have endured immeasurable amounts of trauma. Yet, throughout it all, a thirst to be healed is what’s longed for the most in spite of being subjected to a dogmatic and oppressive perspective used to colonize.
Dogon Krigga is a self-taught visual artist whose medium is digital and cut and paste collage. Raised in Columbia, SC, Krigga set out to provide unique designs for independent businesses and recording artists by transmuting sound into an image that invokes a sense of wonder and reflection on the human cosmic, aboriginal, and omni-dimensional nature. The visionary aspect of Krigga’s creations are an amalgamation of culture and esoteric references through Afrofuturism. Krigga’s artistic intent is to raise Black vibrations through visual art. Dogon Krigga has exhibited extensively in Columbia, SC.
Dogon Krigga observes, My aesthetic comes from Afrofuturism but the way I use symbolism is like an alchemist. I’m self-taught. I tried art school for a semester and a half and learned some theory, but I felt like they were trying to teach juice and I had juice already. There’s definitely a lot of humor in my work. I see enlightenment as one big inside joke. And once you get it there’s like this eternal bliss where you understand the joke that’s the mystery of life. Life can be serious but we have to take a step back laugh and marvel at how intricate yet how simple the universe can be.
We see so many images of blackness under duress, especially in art. So much of black history is the chronicling of suffering. I’m trying to get back to a place where blackness isn’t under attack but is thriving. Our gifts and abilities and how we interact with each other are acts of rebellion and revolution. We are masters of this domain but living a reality where that can be forgotten, so we address this with Afrofuturism to remind us. I’m attempting to liberate people mentally by reminding them who they are outside of what society tells them they are.
As with all of the exhibitions we present, we could not do it without our community partners. Thanks to SAFE Federal Credit Union, the Glenmore and May Sharp Charitable Trust, and Dr, DeAnne and Elielson Messias. Flowers courtesy of Julie Jameson, Azalea Garden Club and the Council of Garden Clubs of Sumter.