The presents “Three Perspectives: Athlone Clarke, Eucharia and Martin Fusung, and Yonrico Scott” during February in celebration of Black History Month. Including acrylic paintings by percussionist Yonrico Scott, mixed media assemblages by Athlone Clarke, and traditional African crafts by Eucharia and Martin Fusung, this year’s exhibition illustrates that contemporary African American culture has no one definition. Rather, it is ever-evolving and created by individuals with diverse backgrounds who offer a variety of varying interpretations of their lives and their society. The exhibition will be on view through Feb. 24 at the Cultural Arts Center.
Hosted by the Douglas County Connection, the opening reception will be on Saturday, Feb. 4, from 6 until 9 p.m., at the Cultural Arts Center. On Sunday, Feb. 5, from 3 until 5 p.m., a special gallery talk and exhibition tour will be offered. Both events are free and open to the general public.
Jamaican-born Athlone Clarke combines historically-based found objects and photographs with hand-painted areas into narrative, mixed media assemblages, which are both awe-inspiring and symbolic. The artist moved to the United States in 1985 when he was in his late twenties to work as a freelance writer while discovering his interest in the visual arts. Although his work varies in theme, many of his pieces reference how roles of African Americans have historically fit into the larger framework of American culture and society, while the addition of old black and white photographs invite the viewer to experience these roles from the vantage point of the men and women who lived them. In one of his largest and most eloquent pieces, Flight School, the story of the Underground Railroad is expressed through a careful intertwining of metaphorical phrase, turn-of-the-century portraits and relics, birds, and butterflies. The birds and butterflies found in the piece can be interpreted as both the action of flight and the incarnation of freedom. His work is both experimental and striking in both its complexity and visual depth.
Eucharia and Martin Fusung were also born outside of the United States. The couple, who originate from the Tikari main tribe, were born in the neighboring villages of Akum and Awing in the North West region of Cameroon, commonly known as Bamenda. In this region, learning to create with one’s hands was an integral part of a child’s upbringing and education, and both Eucharia and Martin Fusung were introduced to local artisan traditions at an early age. Their beautifully-crafted sculptures, garments, and bags illustrate the flavor of traditional African crafts from their native Cameroon. In 2009, the Fusungs came to the United States with their three children: Cornel, Vahid, and Tahirih. Eucharia now produces traditional clothing using colorful, African fabrics decorated with delicate hand embroidery and hand-woven wigs accented with wooden beads and cowrie shells. The star attraction of her collection at the arts center is a cloak-like woman’s garment embellished with striking yellow, red, and white hand-stitched patterns. Martin carves elegant human and animal figures in rich ebony and ghem woods, many of which serve as practical tools l such as pipes and bottle openers. He also creates stylish handmade bags that are created from a combination of raffia and traditional African fabrics. His impending wood carving of a mask-like head detailed with smaller figures, cowrie shells, and coins is one of his most impressive pieces, illustrating his many years of cultivated carving skills.
Acrylic painter and Grammy-winning musician Yonrico Scott, in contrast to the Fusungs and Athlone, was born in the United States, and grew up in the city of Detroit, Michigan where his mother, Ruth Scott, performed as a gospel vocalist. Yonrico studied music at Kentucky State University and the University of Kentucky where he earned his B.A. in performance Percussion in 1978. His paintings are exuberant reflections of his spirit and musical background. Warm, vibrant colors and expressive brush strokes add to the vivacity and movement of works like The Spot and The Village, while other paintings, such as We Have the Same God, address a feeling of a shared spirit between all human beings. In many of his pieces, the traditional canvas is exchanged for used drum heads, adding another imaginative spin to Yonrico’s colorful works.
The Cultural Arts Council of Douglasville/Douglas County is located at 8652 Campbellton Street in historic downtown Douglasville, Georgia, located about 20 miles from Atlanta and just off I-20 (exit 36). Hours of operation are Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Cultural Arts Council and its exhibitions at the Cultural Arts Center are supported by its members, sponsors, the City of Douglasville, the Douglas County Board of Commissioners, and the Georgia Council for the Arts, which is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes a great nation deserves great art. For detailed directions and more information, please contact the Cultural Arts Council at 770-949-2787 or visit www.artsdouglas.org.