Savannah is a crossroad for the Gullah-Geechee people and for the visitors who have passed through since the founding of the colony.
In 2008 I became acquainted with Gullah-Geechee people from the past. They visited and demanded that I paint what they were showing me. They told stories that were meant to be given life on canvas. We argued about this for a long time because I had never painted a human figure and I didn’t know why they thought I was the person for this task. Starting the Gullah Living series required a leap of faith from me, but they were very sure. That is how my love for the Gullah-Geechee and their unique culture was born.
Fast forward – painting, learning, then educating about the culture. I had a gallery show at S.P.A.C.E. sponsored by the Bureau of Cultural Affairs, Savannah and a show at the JEA Center. I won an award at the prestigious Telfair Art Show in 2012. I have been juried into many Art Fairs: The Telfair, Atlanta Dogwood Festival, The Art Ob We the People on HHI, The NIBCAA Gullah Festival, and more.
Each venture is a learning and a teaching experience. I was the first Gullah Art gallery at City Market, Savannah. 2017 marks my 5th. year of educating the visitors who come through our art and soul space. Native Gullah artists now also work in their new galleries. We each offer different and personal perspectives from our individual place of painting. From the very beginning I have called my work “Painting the Stories” as that is literally where I began. My FineFolk gallery also represents Gullah doll makers, sweetgrass basket weavers, a clay artist and visiting painters and craftspeople. We offer books on the culture and the New Testament translated into Gullah phonetically (a great read!) The gallery also represents The Artist known as Beverley with her unique cultural history originating in Jamaica.
Savannah is a crossroad for the Gullah-Geechee people and for the visitors who have passed through since the founding of the colony. Living here offered me an opportunity to meet and talk – to seduce visitors to the wonder of a group of people who actually created ‘the South’ as we know it, the South that tourists search for. If you are here to learn about Savannah then let me start this story for you..with truth. I deal in truth when telling these stories, when I relate this history. I tell you factual things, no sugarcoating. I was given a mission and I do it to the very best of my ability. My paintings are kinder and gentler, coming from the ether, than my discourse on the history of these enslaved people who built might and wealth for a few and yet remained true to the teachings they brought with them and the ones they embraced here. I admire, respect, and will always be grateful for this opportunity to Paint the Stories and sing the praises of the people and the culture of the Gullah-Geechee nation. I want you to walk away with the real history and the determination to share what you have learned. If a painting ‘speaks’ to you – because each one has a story for YOU – then it can be your reminder to share the history and do the work for a better future that encompasses equality and fairness.
ART leads us in many directions – inside and out – ARTISTS are the funnel to make murals of what was – what can be imagined – what can be achieved. Paintings, music, poetry, sculpture – all help define bigger and better awareness of each other. Join Samantha CLAAR and Beverley at FineFolk for an awakening – and an old fashioned visit!
You are welcome here.
Below are just some of the wonderful pieces of the Gullah Living series created by Samantha Claar over the years*.
*please note not all pictures are available for purchase