Greg Mort Schedule
7 p.m., Nessmith-Lane Building, GSU
11:45 a.m., Statesboro High School
7 p.m. - Opening reception at Averitt Center - Mort's art will be on display; he will also sign books and prints
11 a.m., Mort will speak to local artists courtesy of the Statesboro Regional Art Association
In 2008, Dawn Oliver, a member of the Statesboro Arts Council Board and a volunteer for the visual arts committee, was having coffee with a friend who mentioned to her an internationally renowned artist with ties to the Statesboro community. Oliver shared the information with Tim Chapman, executive director of the Averitt Center, and Frank D'Arcangelo, visual arts chair.
As Chapman and D'Arcangelo became familiar with the artist's work, they also identified a possible connection between the artist's focus on stewardship and Georgia Southern University's Center for Sustainability, its mission being to increase education and awareness of sustainability issues, both on campus and in the community.
Two years hence, a multi-faceted project encompassing art, sustainability and education for the Statesboro community will come to fruition Friday when Greg Mort, one of America's most noted contemporary artists, brings his "Art of Stewardship" exhibition to the Averitt Center for the Arts.
A self-taught artist who has received international critical acclaim, Mort's work has been exhibited and acquired by museums world-wide, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Corcoran Gallery of Art, the Delaware Art Museum, the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum, the NASA Art Collection and the Singer Museum in the Netherlands.
"My fascination with the wonders and beauty of nature came alive during my childhood summer visits to my grandparents Addie Lou and Carroll Eugene Sanders' farm in southern Bulloch County," Mort says.
In celebration of his Bulloch County heritage, he is dedicating "Art of Stewardship" to his aunt, Judge Faye Sanders Martin.
"Whatever measure of success an individual may have the fortune to acquire, certainly comes through the efforts and generosity of others," he said. "Faye Sanders Martin, without question, is one of those special individuals who has supported me in more ways than one.
In 1979, Aunt Faye graciously opened her home and invited scores of guests to introduce my work to the public. Without events like this, I sincerely believe my artistic destiny would have been very different indeed or perhaps never happened at all."
Throughout his lifetime, Mort's works have explored the realms of the infinite and the infinitesimal.
"Stewardship I," completed in 1991, became part of President Bill Clinton's private collection. Additionally, he received a special commission to paint "Stewardship II" for then Vice President Al Gore. In 2004 to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary, Mort created "Stewardship III," which is now part of a collection in Boston. "Stewardship IV," inspired in 2007, celebrated Mort's 30th year as an acclaimed artist and is now a part of the David H. Hickman Collection of the Academy Art Museum.
Mort established The Art of Stewardship Project in 2008 and continued his Stewardship series of paintings with Stewardship IV and Stewardship V which were acquired by Washington philanthropist David H. Hickman, Mort's largest single collector. Forty Greg Mort paintings in The David H. Hickman Collection were recently donated to the Academy Art Museum in Easton, Maryland. The entire Stewardship series will be on view as part of The Art of Stewardship exhibition and Giclee prints will be offered for sale to benefit the Averitt Center for the Arts.
Mort's desire to bring about a shift in environmental awareness touches students of all ages. He will speak at Georgia Southern on Thursday and discuss how art can initiate and cultivate an interest in environmental awareness, conservation theories and methods for repurposing. On Friday he will visit Statesboro High School art and science classes.
"This is always a stimulating experience for me," he said.
That afternoon, he will mentor GSU Master of Fine Arts students selected to participate in a "juried call" to create scaled models of sculptures from recycled materials. Funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, the student's sculpture selected by a juried committee will be unveiled at the Botanical Garden April 22 - Earth Day.
When asked what activity he is looking forward to during his visit, he said, "The Sanders Family Reunion, with my favorite aunt."