Renowned Artist Jonathan Green and Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth Featured at USCB Lunch with Author Series
Throughout the Lowcountry the mention of Jonathan Green evokes visions of prime color paintings of women in big hats with billowing skirts, Gullahs at praise houses, men in corn fields, azure blue water and lighter blue skies with cotton ball clouds, and the endless marshlands… described by Green as the most beautiful place on earth. And there’s not much earth where his art has not been viewed.
On Thursday, July 11 Jonathan Green will talk about his masterpiece SEEKING and the prose, poetry and music it inspired from artists throughout the country. Marjory Wentworth, South Carolina Poet Laureate and co-editor of the literary masterpiece, Seeking, will join Green as part of the USCB Lunch With Author Summer Series. The luncheon will be held at Hampton Hall Clubhouse, Bluffton, starting at noon followed by both artists’ talks, Q&A and book signing. Reservations are made at 843-521-4147 or email@example.com. All-inclusive price is $42.
Green’s work has inspired a wide range of responses from artists around the world. In Seeking we see how Green’s art prompts works of poetry, prose, and memoir. Seeking’s evocative power lies in the intimacy of this dialogue, which speaks to the shared sense of landscape and culture that Green stirs in these writers, ranging from close friends and fellow artists from his home state of South Carolina to nationally established authors who regard Green’s work as an important cultural institution. The contributors have allowed themselves to be chal¬lenged by Green’s brilliance, his honesty, his intense spirituality, and his deep love of people.
The inspiration for SEEKING came from a tradition of Green’s Gullah ancestors. According to Green, “Traditionally, a person desiring or ‘seeking’ to become a Christian was required to go through a process of reflection, a ‘coming of age’ or ‘rite of passage’ prior to actual baptism into the church. This required an individual to go into the woods apart from others and seek the presence of God. ‘Seeking’ usually lasted from three days to three weeks and was completed by the age of twelve. Little or no food was given; a respected adult of the church served as spiritual contact who taught the child how to pray. Through separation from others, food deprivation, and location in the woods, the seeking person was placed in a state that induced dreams. The spiritual leader helped interpret the dreams and decided when the seeker was deemed worthy to seek baptism.” Green’s dreams are described in the book.
The impetus for the painting was a meeting Green had with Father Francis Kline, abbott of Mepkin Abbey in Moncks Corner, South Carolina who wanted a commemorative work of art to recognize the cultural contributions made by African Americans. The two met in an overgrown grove on the abbey grounds that was the site of an old, unmarked slave cemetery. Immediately Green felt this was an opportunity to interpret one of the formative experiences of his early life.
It was Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley’s 2008 multi-arts celebration focusing on Green’s painting SEEKING which was hanging in the Gibbes Museum of Art that inspired writers from around the country to create poems, essays and memoirs to memorialize the SEEKING painting in literature. South Carolina Poet Laureate Marjory Wentworth and Emmy Award winner Kwame Dawes edited the collection and created the literary book, Seeking. Eleven color paintings by Green along with the history of the project and a statement by Green complete this masterpiece. The books will be available at the July 11th Hampton Hall luncheon courtesy of the Shark’s Cove bookstore. Reservations are made at 843-521-4147 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The second luncheon for the USCB Lunch With Author Summer Series will feature Cassandra King who will debut her new book, Moonrise, at the Sea Pines Country Club at noon, on Wednesday, July 31.