Breakout! is a site-specific installation by local artist Amiri Geuka Farris (American, B. 1974) for the 2020 iteration of Telfair Museums’ annual Boxed In/Break Out project, which involves activating windows at the Jepson Center that face Barnard Street. Farris has created five large-scale assemblages that layer and juxtapose images of present-day Savannah inhabitants with references to Gullah traditions and African American history and narrative. The works are made from various recycled and found materials including boxes and paper bags. Combining these reworked objects with his unique printmaking process, Farris blurs the boundaries between abstraction and representation, sculpture and printmaking, and contemporary and traditional. Farris writes of his own artistic practice, “I like to see artwork that will take one medium and use it to do something else. Artwork that is bold, expressive, and completely different.” In addition to being inspired by the materials around him to create dynamic and colorful pieces, Farris also looks to his own life as he creates works that are full of intimate personal experiences and examinations of subjects that are compelling to him, including issues surrounding diaspora, culture, memory, and perception.
Dr. Jonathan Walz, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Curator of American Art at The Columbus Museum, Georgia and guest judge for Boxed In/Break Out, selected Farris’ proposal because it “best met or exceeded expectations for the project’s criteria of creativity and originality, feasibility, resourcefulness, visual appeal, and suitability to the space. Two form/content issues, in particular, captured my attention. First, the artist’s reuse or repurposing of discarded materials seems timely, given the urgent state of global environmental concerns. Second, as a curator, I often muse upon the power concentrated in museums and who is represented within those institutions. Seeing oneself reflected in a collection object, staff member, or museum trustee can be a powerful experience. Farris’ proposal to picture members from a range of Savannah communities—past and present—sounds compelling, and, based on the artist’s previous work, I am eager to see the final results.”
The results are indeed compelling to visitors who walk by the windows at the Jepson Center. Although captured behind glass, the works break out of the constricting form to boldly announce their presence and invite visitors to stop, look, and discover.
Virtual Artist Talk with Amiri Farris and Erin DunnArtist Amiri Farris and Erin Dunn, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, for a discussion of Farris’ work and his new site-specific installation Breakout! in the exterior windows along Barnard Street at Telfair’s Jepson Center.
Original music and lyrics by Amiri Farris
Runtime: 6:59 minutes
About the Artist:
Amiri Geuka Farris is a contemporary, multidisciplinary artist who uses a wide range of work encompasses painting, drawing, video, performance, and installation. Farris received his MFA in Painting, with his BFA in Illustration and Graphic Design, from the Savannah College of Art and Design. Farris’ academic appointments include Professor of Fine Arts Foundations and Graphic Design at Georgia Southern University, at the Betty Foy Sanders Department of Art, and Professor of Fine Arts, at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort. Farris’ work has been featured in more than 50 solo exhibitions and juried museum exhibitions across the United States, including the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. and the Smithsonian.
This exhibition is organized by Telfair Museums and curated by Erin Dunn, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art.
About Boxed In/Break Out and #art912:
Boxed In/Break Out is part of Telfair Museums’ #art912 initiative, which is dedicated to raising the visibility and promoting the vitality of artists living and working in Savannah.