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Jonathan Green is an internationally renowned artist, but he could also be a historian. Before he delves into a visual arts project, he dives into books first.

Green said his home is filled with books about African American culture, European culture and now rice. Yes, rice.

Green is known for his brightly colored paintings that celebrate southern life. One aspect of that southern life is the cultivation of rice, and the enslavement of Africans that made it possible, during the 1700s.

Green talks passionately about how the cultivation of rice lead to prosperity in the south, and Charleston specifically, yet this part of slave history isn’t taught in schools.

“It is so unfortunate that our people with the exception of the few grand and great grand elders in this the community, it is not in the context of our history books,” said Green in a recent interview with Radio One.

Green, an S.C. native, is developing pieces around rice culture and preparing for a rice symposium in September in Charleston. He will be in Charlotte this weekend for the opening of the exhibit “A Spiritual Journey of Life.” It will be at the Harvey B. Gantt Center from March 30-June 15. The exhibit features Green’s “Burton’s Lady” among other pieces.

Green’s exhibit is one of three new ones at the Gantt that celebrate southern culture. “I Got Freedom Over My Head,” portraits by Julie Moos and “Etched In The Eyes” by David Herman Jr. are also on display at the Gantt through June.


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