Spoleto Festival USA unveils official 2016 poster by
Charleston Artist Jonathan Green
April 7, 2016 (CHARLESTON, SOUTH CAROLINA)—A vibrant image celebrating Gullah culture by Charleston-based artist Jonathan Green was unveiled today by General Director Nigel Redden as the official 2016 Spoleto Festival USA poster. Green is the visual designer for Spoleto Festival USA’s much-anticipated production of opera Porgy and Bess. The production is part of the Festival’s 40th season held May 27 through June 12 in Charleston, South Carolina. The poster features Green’s painting, Harvest Gathering. This is Green’s second poster for Spoleto Festival USA. His work was also featured on the 2004 poster and was among the Festival’s most popular and sold-out poster prints. The 2016 poster is available for purchase for $35 from the Festival’s box office at the Charleston Visitor Center or by phone by calling 843.579.3100. A limited number of signed posters will also be available.
Redden says Green was the obvious choice for this year’s poster following the excitement generated by his involvement in Porgy and Bess: “Jonathan Green is a wonderful visual artist renowned for his iconic depiction of Gullah culture in the Lowcountry and his insight into the people whom DuBose Heyward described in his novel, Porgy. His vibrant colors, his unique vision of Gullah life, his way of making a simple scene seem monumental, will all make Spoleto Festival USA’s production of Porgy and Bess something to remember. Having his work featured on the poster is an extension of this tremendous contribution to what promises to be a truly celebratory 40th season.”
Gullah is the name for the African-American populations living on the Sea Islands and in the coastal region of South Carolina. Descendants of enslaved Africans, the Gullah people (also sometimes referred to as Geechee) have their own language with many customs and traditions rooted in the Central and West African cultures.
Born and raised in the rural Gullah community of Gardens Corner near Beaufort, SC and a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago, Green has gained an international reputation for capturing the southern experience in his work. His work, including his designs for Porgy and Bess, captures the West African roots of the Gullah people and reflects his passion for celebrating and preserving this culture, and his efforts in promoting understanding of the Lowcountry region’s rice-based economic history.
“Working on Porgy and Bess for Spoleto Festival USA has been an enriching experience both as an artist and as a son of the Lowcountry. To be in a position to represent my culture and our history is a great responsibility and a true privilege. To once again be asked to have my work on the festival’s poster adds to this honor,” says Green.
Porgy and Bess will open on Friday, May 27 at 7:00pm at the Charleston Gaillard Center with five subsequent performances. All performances are sold out. The Festival is also offering a Porgy and Bess Walking Tour four times daily throughout the Festival and several other cultural organizations have Porgy and Bess related programming planned. Information on all events is available at spoletousa.org.
A selection of Green’s costume designs for Porgy and Bess are available for sale. All paintings are framed and signed by the artist with a portion of the proceeds going to Spoleto Festival USA. Available images can be viewed online here.
Over the past 40 seasons Spoleto Festival USA’s posters have featured work by influential artists such as Chuck Close, Antony Gormley, David Hockney, Jasper Johns, Sol LeWitt, Henry Moore, Elizabeth Murray, Bridget Riley, and Frank Stella, among others. A gallery of past posters available for sale can be found online at spoletousa.org. Spoleto Festival USA posters are limited editions and are not re-printed once they have sold out.