outflows and inflows of creativity

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Artist Jonathan Green

South Carolina artist (he now resides in Florida) and native son Jonathan Green graciously granted an interview with me. I have always admired his work - the colors, the joie de vivre that is so abundant in his paintings. Here are his thoughts on art and culture, and the role they play in our lives.

"Marsh Woman" 1999
Copyright 2006 Jonathan Green Studios, Inc.

What are your thoughts on the role of artists and what
specific needs do they fulfill?

Artists are our shamans, their role is to record and inform visually- through music, through dance- the culture. Artists create and through that creativity the culture can be remembered for all time. Every community needs artists - they are vital.

What inspires you?

The now. What I'm feeling, doing, seeing, drinking, eating . . . all that and more.

What is your day like?

It depends on the season. In the Fall I'm up later, around 4:00 AM, and I work until the sun goes down, about 5:00 or 6:00 PM. I take an hour or two for lunch. I work six days a week, I spend the seventh day reading, relaxing.

Do you use studio assistants? Do you stretch your own canvases, etc.?

No, I do it all myself. I want to put time into art, not stretching canvas. I want to implement the imagery I have in my mind. My inspiration, my muse, is always around. I live in my home for my work and for other people - I represent that in my work.

What was your early subject matter, and at what point did you decide to focus on Gullah subjects?

Gullah has always been my subject. As a child I saw and did things and I knew the more one participates the more one is respected and acknowledged. People around me were always working and doing.

How do you support the arts on an individual basis?

I like the younger up and coming artists, and I like WPA art out of Chicago, and African American artists. I devote my life to making sure the imagery of American artists is not forgotten.

What are your thoughts on the way art is taught in public schools?

It isn't taught! It is a wide open field. Art should be taught at the family level. Families need to take the responsibility to support the artists in their family, to nurture that creativity. They should be taught to tap into their intuitive inner feelings . . . which is the importance of family . . . love, food, beauty, history. Art was our first language. The notion of art has nothing to do with an institution - it has to do with family. It needs to be nurtured by family, and the family needs to invest time into the child's vision. 99.9% of families are not supporting their members in the arts. If the family supported the arts, communities would support the arts, then cities, then states, etc. It ALL begins at the family level.

Many visual artists also write. Do you?

No, I speak rather than write. I put a lot of emphasis on speaking.

Can you share where your artistic direction is taking you?

On the first week of March, 2008 I'll be conducting a symposium on "Seeking" - I will start at the Gibbes Museum, then go to the Charleston County Library, Then to the University of South Carolina, and finally end at the College of Charleston. For more information contact Barbara Burgess 843 345-3664.


cooper said...

That was a totally awesome interview.

Thanks for sharing it with us.

harriett said...

So very glad to do it - Jonathan Green is a really neat, beautiful soul.

artsails1 said...


This is a great story, thanks for sharing it. I bet it was wonderful to meet him. Keep up the great work! Jeanee