April 24, 2007

Spirit Finds Form at Art Exhibit

Gene TinnieThree African-American artists will explore the theme of ''Sacred Presence'' in visual art in a two-weekend showing of different, yet related, works at Deluxe Arts, 2051 NW Second Ave., April 14-28.

Robert Peppers, an associate professor of Art at Ohio University, will bring his evocative Hush Harbor series of large, free-standing crosses, while Miami-based artists Dinizulu Gene Tinnie and Roland Woods Jr. will present Spirits of Amerik and Living Water, respectively.

Tinnie's work comprises a small, eclectic group of paintings, drawings and sculpture suggesting universal spirituality. Woods offers an extensive collection of striking black-and-white drawings and prints with inspirational and historic themes.

Peppers' Hush Harbor crosses have a haunting spiritual origin of their own. The crosses are painted and contain other materials such as soot, paint chips and broken glass. They were inspired by a journey Peppers made to South Carolina to help restore one of the black churches that had been nearly destroyed by fire in a wave of church burnings in 1996.

The very emotional experience, which led to Peppers' gathering of burnt wood and other materials to use in his art, was also uplifting, as it confirmed the resilience and strength of the faith of the people.

A second incident -- surviving what could have have been a fatal car accident -- was another kind of reawakening of Peppers' faith.

Exploring modern everyday reality and the social conditions that prevail in the world today. He often focuses on the consequences of the Middle Passage of the Atlantic slave trade, the uprooting of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas and other similar acts -- but also on the positive contributions of the human spirit.

The title of Tinnie's exhibition, Spirits of Amerik, suggests that more than just physical bodies and physical force are involved in the making of who one is, the wide diversity of sources and ''Spirits'' that have been part of the process and the fact that America is still an unfinished work-in-progress.

Woods' exhibition, Living Water, represents something of a grand return to the art scene for the art teacher who has an iconic place in South Florida's history as the father of the black visual art movement and founder of the Miami Black Arts Workshop in Coconut Grove, which had become something of a local legend during its existence from 1969 to 1985.

Though he has had impressive formal training and boasts degrees in the fine arts, Woods did not lose contact with his roots and he set out to redefine the role of art by bringing it closer to the community in which he lived and worked. In the process, he also developed a powerful body of works that were inspired by his deep Christian faith.

After a long absence from showing his works, due to the demands of teaching, Woods is making a return with old and new works, seasoned by insights gained over the intervening years.

Sacred Presence is part of the ''Sacred Presence: Religion and Spirituality in African World Literature, Orature and Arts'' series taking place at various venues Thursday through April 22. A formal opening is set for 6 p.m. April 18 headlined by Amiri Baraka and is free and open to the public. The gallery is open on weekends and by appointment.

Miami Herald Staff Report


Saturday, April 28, 7:00 to 10:00 p.m.

Robert Peppers’ Hush Harbor exhibit ends its two-week run at Deluxe Arts Gallery, 2051 N.W. 2nd Avenue in Wynwood.

This Must-See Exhibit, Hush Harbor, leaves town this weekend!

Hush Harbor was brought to Miami by the City of Miami to honor the 70th Anniversary Celebration of the College Language Association held here in Miami, April 18 -22. The College Language Association is an organization with global membership that was started seventy years ago by Black scholars in America excluded from joining the Modern Language Association. The organization’s conference theme was Religion and Spirituality in Literature. The exhibit is presented with the support of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Affairs Council, the Miami-Dade County Mayor and Board of County Commissioners.

Hush harbors or bresh harbors were secret places of worship for enslaved persons forbidden to practice their own religion. Hidden in the forest, enslaved Africans congregated in the “bresh” (brush or woods) to practice their faith.

Peppers’ “Hush Harbor” is comprised of twelve 6 ft. high crosses and a pulpit that have a haunting spiritual origin of their own, rooted in history and in personal experience. The crosses are large paintings, containing various other materials, including soot, paint chips and broken glass. They were inspired by a journey which Professor Peppers made to South Carolina to help restore one of the Black churches that had been nearly destroyed by fire in the wave of church burnings which swept across the South in 1996.

That very emotional experience, which led to his gathering of burnt wood and other materials to use in his art, was also uplifting, as it confirmed the resilience and strength of people’s faith. The Hush Harbor series, also benefits from Peppers’ extensive talent, training and experience in art making, especially with a meaningful message for social change.

Peppers’ exhibit is part of the Sacred Presence series which also includes local artists Roland Woods and Dinizulu Gene Tinnie.

For more information, call Wallis Tinnie

(305) 250-5307 – Office




Stephen A. Bess said...

Folks soon forget about those church burnings back in '96. I know because I had forgotten about them. The attitude will always resurface in many forms. I haven't been to a good art exhibit in a while. It's a shame because they're all over this city. Hello brother Geoffrey. Peace~

Geoffrey Philp said...

Stephen, I, too, had forgotten about them until the exhibit, so I am thankful that it is here in town,