|Black History Month, 1975-76|
North Carolina Central University Art Museum will host the first major retrospective exhibit of draftsman, illustrator and painter Tyrone Geter from March 24 through April 19. An opening reception with Geter will be held on Sunday, March 24, at 2 p.m. Admission to the reception and the museum is free.
A recipient of the Duncanson Artist-in-Residence award sponsored by the Taft Museum in Cincinnati, Geter is one of the best draftsmen — an artist skilled in drawing — on the contemporary scene. The 45 works in the NCCU exhibit are steeped in the African genre, personal memory and visual metaphors and include Geter’s most important drawings, collages, paintings, installation pieces and ceramic sculptures.
A grant from the Arts and Humanities Council of Boston enabled Geter, in 1979, to spend seven years in Zaria, Nigeria. The result was the production of large-scale drawings that are among the highlights featured in the exhibition: his bold charcoal drawing of “Spirits No. 4 (Ancestors),” “Women Being What They Are,” “Shadow People” and “Water! Water! Always Water!”
In the early 2000s Geter’s work expanded to include studies in motion, mixed media and three-dimensional collages that are centered on powerful human portraits reflecting their African-American heritage. In “Enough,” each head is rendered in charcoal while the remainder of the bodies is composed of cloth. This combination of drawing and the tactile nature of applying fabric and torn paper introduce a novel mode of expression that enables the viewer to perceive the surface quality in both physical and visual terms.
Having painted several murals and completed one for the National Underground Railroad begun by the late Tom Feelings, Geter’s sense of scale was heightened in “Threshold,” prominently displayed on a back wall in the museum, and in “Jubilation at the Gates” and “Playtime With My Father.” His application of paint in an abstract manner to simulate skies pushed him to consider color field techniques in these pieces
Also present in the exhibition is Geter’s “Contender” series, which examines the economic disfranchisement and unrealized potential of marginalized African-Americans. Inherent in “Backache: My Back was your Back; I Guarded it with my Life” is the relationship between daughters, mothers and grandmothers whose personal and public sacrifices made it possible for their progeny to advance.
More recently, Geter has created a series of abstracted, ceramic sculptures that are sometimes glazed, but have the head as a focal point. The fabrication process was remarkably labor-intensive, involving subtle juxtapositions and layers of glazed color. The show also includes large-scale installation pieces such as his 2013 “Father of Our Father.”
Geter’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States, and in Nigeria, Senegal, Japan and China. He has received numerous awards, including first place in the Moja Arts Festival in Charleston, S.C., and first place in the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown, Ohio.
An artist who draws upon oral narrative tradition and music for inspiration, Geter has illustrated 10 children’s books. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1973 and an MFA in 1975 from Ohio University. He is currently professor and director of the Ponder Gallery of Art at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C.
The NCCU Art Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. Admission is free. For more information, call the museum at 919-530-6211.