Spoleto Festival USA has unveiled its poster for 2016, a bold image by local artist Jonathan Green, who is involved in the production of “Porgy and Bess.”
The image of figures dancing derives from African harvest culture, Green said.
This is the first time any artist has produced more than one poster for the festival, according to General Director Nigel Redden.
Green is only the second artist from South Carolina who has provided poster art. Columbia artist Christian Thee made the poster for the 1977 festival.
“It’s going to be the Jonathan Green festival in 2016,” Redden said.
Green designed the sets and costumes for “Porgy and Bess,” a folk opera by George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward.
Several Porgy-related events are planned around the production. The Gibbes Museum of Art will host a special exhibit upon its reopening late this spring. Journalist Martha Teichner will interview Green and director David Herskovits at a “Conversations With” session during the festival. The Charleston Museum is planning to show Porgy-related photographs.
Spoleto Festival also is organizing a public art project involving up to 15 private homes and buildings in downtown Charleston. Green is producing decorative imagery, printed on vinyl, to be applied to local structures. The imagery recalls aspects of West African culture. It’s an effort to link Charleston with the African continent and draw attention to the contributions of enslaved laborers who helped build the city and its economy, Redden said.
“It’s to let people know something about African-American history that they might not otherwise realize,” he said. “We’re decorating these buildings in a way that makes it clear they have significance in the history of South Carolina and Charleston.”
The festival will print a map for its patrons and post information about each property on its website.
Green said the poster image, chosen by Redden among a variety of options, celebrates the harvest and pays tribute to rural blacks whose goods were transported into the city center. The wide-brimmed woven hats mimic rice baskets and the bold use of the color red signifies cultural vitality, he said.
Green’s first Spoleto poster was for the 2004 festival and featured a woman on a swing, her legs extended toward the blue sky.
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