Jonathan Green

"White Breeze" 1995
Oil on Canvas 48" x 60"
Jonathan Green
Copyright Jonathan Green Studios, Inc. 1995
316 Morgan Road, Naples, Fl. 33414
(941) 775-9999
Shown with permisssion of Jonathan Green Studios.
May be viewed, but further reproduction may require specific permission of the copyright holder.

Jonathan Green's work reflects the everyday life of African-Americans in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Born in 1955, he was raised in Gardens Corner where he learned to speak the Gullah dialect and developed a strong feeling for his cultural heritage. As a child, he lived with his grandparents and visited his mother in New York during his vacations. She had moved there seeking better opportunities. He lived with her for several years during his preteen years before returning to South Carolina.

Like many young people, Green had no specific career plans after completing school. College was not a possibility. Green liked to draw, but was sure he could not support himself as an artist. His experience living out of state had given him a taste of what the world outside South Carolina was like. So Green joined the military in order to obtain an education and to have the opportunity to travel. The military recruiter had told him he would be able to attend illustration school while in service. However, despite his artistic ability, Green was assigned the job of cook and sent off to North Dakota. In an interview he recounted his depression over what seemed a hopeless situation. But he discovered a technical college nearby in Minnesota where he was able to study illustration. His teachers encouraged him to visit Chicago with its art museums and to consider a career in art. After completing military service, he attended the Art Institute of Chicago and earned a bachelor's degree in 1982. While enrolled in school, he worked part-time as a security guard at the museum. This enabled him to study great art at the job he needed to support himself. Learning about great art, he first imitated others and then found his own direction, painting the world of his youth. By the time he graduated, he was becoming known as an artist and became able to support himself with his painting since that time.

Green paints the scenes and the people he knew as a child, pictures of what may be a vanishing way of life. His colorful paintings in acrylic and oil have helped to preserve the Gullah culture. His work ranges from scenes of everyday life, such as a girl walking a dog, a woman hanging out laundry, and men picking oysters, to special occasions such as a wedding or a christening. While Green paints the world in which he lived as a youth, his work also focuses on the problems of living in a multi-racial society today.

Green has had many shows and exhibits, including one at the McKissick Museum in Columbia in 1993 that traveled to a number of states. He has co-authored a successful children's book. His work has also appeared on calendars, posters, and on the cover of a cookbook. His paintings can be found in the permanent collections of a number of museums, including the Greenville County Museum of Art in Greenville, S.C., the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Ga., the Norton Gallery Museum in West Palm Beach, Fl., the McKissick Museum in Columbia, S.C., and the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples, Fl. He has received a number of awards recognizing his work and his civic contributions. He received six awards for contributions to the arts from civic and other organizations, was a nominee for the NAACP's National Image Award, received the Alberta Peacock Award in 1996, and was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Fine Art from the University of South Carolina in 1996. He was listed in Who's Who in American Art in 1995-96.

Green has also been a contributing member of the community. He was a member of the Board of Directors of Share Our Strength, a community organization that helps to combat hunger, Vice-President of the Collier County United Arts Council in Naples, Fl., and a board member of the Chicago Academy for the Arts.

A new book that reproduces a number of his most beautiful paintings showcases his work. Gullah Images: The Art of Jonathan Green demonstrates how Green's work has grown and changed over the years. In an article in The State newspaper, Jeffrey Day wrote, "His earliest images, from 1985, are somber and the late '80s his palette bloomed with bright colors and bolder patterns that would become the dominant forces in his art".

Green now lives in Naples, Florida, in an area that he says is very similar to the South Carolina Lowcountry.


Background Information. Provided by Jonathan Green studio. March 12, 1997.

More information on Green and a picture of the artist can be found at the following link.

Curtis, Kim. "Florida artist evokes S.C.'s Gullah images," The State (November 12, 1996), B5.

Day, Jeffrey. "Lowcountry's fall art walk isn't a stroll in the park," The State (September 29, 1996), F4.

Day, Jeffrey. "More than Nostalgia." The State (April 1, 1993), F1, F2.

Green, Jonathan. Gullah Images: The Art of Jonathan Green. Columbia, S.C.: University of South Carolina Press, 1996.

last updated 10/21/02


The University of South Carolina-Aiken
e-mail [email protected]