Jazz swings at the Foster-Tanner gallery – The Famuan
The work of Orlando artist Everett Spruill is on display this fall at FAMU’s Foster-Tanner Fine Arts Gallery.
Called “The Art of Jazz,” the exhibition highlights leading jazz musicians and features mixed media collages and paintings that showcase African cultures.
On display until October 30, the gallery is free to enter but donations are accepted.
Many of the works presented in the exhibition highlight African-American jazz artists who have left an imprint on the genre.
“I grew up in a musical household,” Spruill said. “We had piano lessons, I sang in the choir, so the music helped shape my early years. We considered jazz to be our own classical music. We [Black people] created jazz so it’s special. It should be preserved in every way possible and art is the perfect accompaniment. Yes, I am passionate about jazz. My goal, again, is to celebrate what is the art of America that we have created. At one point in history, jazz seemed to die. I felt it was my duty to help preserve and revive the genre.
Although the exhibition is titled “The Art of Jazz”, spectators can also see many pieces that pay homage to different African cultures.
“I loved how the artist included a multitude of many African paintings in this exhibition with the theme of jazz,” said Ernalyn Thony, a visitor to the gallery. “I feel like it allowed me to escape the Eurocentric society that I have to endure day in and day out when I visit art galleries in Railroad Square and around the city. I really appreciate his use of geometric shapes in his works. It makes a bold statement and grabs my attention.
Spruill shed light on the source of his inspirations for the artwork.
“African art inspires my use of geometry and patterns,” he said. “Masks, sculptures, bright colors and textiles play an important role in my cubist style. I also like to think of my art as “jewels”, so the facets and angles help me create the effect of a sparkling jewel on the canvas. Romare Bearden and Picasso, two of my favorite artists, knew the value of form and dimension. Create the illusion and effect of three dimensions on a one-dimensional surface. It is a concept which allows simple but complicated compositions. Since then I use a multitude of mediums. Simplicity is important.
“I found the accessibility of the artwork to be great,” said Linda Mares, a gallery visitor. “I feel like a lot of places that provide a platform for artists are very whitewashed. They ask for expensive donations or purchases that people like me cannot afford. Plus, when people of color walk into these galleries, they often feel left out. However, FAMU is a predominantly black university and I feel like a job like this shown at the university gives access to people of color. I also see my culture in Afro-themed work and I can see the work of an equally capable artist who is black.
Spruill shared his thoughts on his work’s contribution to FAMU.
“Art is nothing if it is not shared,” he said. “If I can inspire a young artist or collector, my job is done. I want, my people in particular, to evolve and progress until we are self-sufficient. Using our natural talent is a great asset. I like to promote black culture, preserve our culture, transmit it and create wealth through art. One of the main reasons I create is to educate through my work. Educational institutions are the perfect places to keep the discussion going and move us forward as a people, as a planet.
Visitors can follow Everett Spruill on Instagram @everettsart or visit everett-spruill.pixels.com to view and purchase prints or original artwork made by the artist.