18-Month Residency Made Possible by $150,000 Grant from Roberts Foundation
Hartford, CT (September 15, 2021) — The Amistad Center for Art & Culture is pleased to announce Merik Goma as the inaugural Joyce C. Willis Artist in Residence. Made possible through a generous grant from The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation, this $150,000 program includes an eighteen-month residency and will culminate in an exhibition of newly created work. Goma’s exhibition will open in January 2023 in The Amistad Center galleries.
Merik Goma, a Manistee, MI native, is a New Haven based photographer and recent graduate of the NXTHVN Fellowship Program, an arts incubator founded by renowned artist Titus Kaphar. Goma builds intricate sets within his studio that he uses as both the subjects of tableaux and as the backdrop for portraits or stages for narrative photographs. His technique in setting up his scenes is painterly in its execution, with close attention to color and lighting. His work has been featured by Tilton Gallery, at Art Basel, and is in the collection of Yale University.
Goma will have access to the full Amistad Center collection of art and artifacts to inspire and inform his new body of work. Throughout the residency, he will be a valued resource to The Amistad Center, particularly as The Amistad Center shapes educational events and public programming around the artist and his technique.
Find out more about Merik Goma HERE.
In late 2020, The Roberts Foundation announced a $500,000 initiative to support excellence and equity in the arts that also included gifts to Hartford Stage and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. The program is named in honor of Joyce C. Willis, a former Roberts Foundation board member, founding member and past board president of The Amistad Center, board member of The Hartford Symphony Orchestra, and ardent supporter of Hartford Stage. Willis, who retired from The Hartford Financial Services Group as Vice President of Corporate Communications in 2005, died of COVID-19 in June 2020.
“The Joyce C. Willis Fund will not only serve as a catalyst to help Black artists excel in their careers, but also will encourage other organizations to examine their efforts to promote racial equity in the arts,” says Lisa M. Curran, executive director of The Roberts Foundation. “We hope this initiative is the first step in encouraging local nonprofits embrace cultural change and increase their investment in artists of color.”
“The Amistad Center is so grateful to The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation for its commitment to support Black artists in such a meaningful way,” says Kimberly Kersey, executive director of The Amistad Center. “Creating space for exceptional Black artists such as Merik Goma to dive deeper into their work and process benefits not only the selected artist but the community at large. It is such a privilege for The Amistad Center to serve as a conduit for preserving Joyce Willis’ memory and legacy. Joyce was a valued member of our Board of Trustees and the greater Hartford arts community.”
About The Amistad Center
The Amistad Center for Art & Culture celebrates art and culture influenced by people of African descent through education, scholarship and social experiences. For thirty-four years, The Amistad Center has exhibited and programmed the stories of poets, politicians, entertainers, soldiers and the enslaved, creative geniuses and everyday people who have made enormous contributions to our country, our community and our culture. Through our collection, we recognize the role of creativity in the freedom struggle and the potential for art to continue improving our world.
About The Roberts Foundation
The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation is a private, special purpose foundation founded in 1964 by Ned and Sunny Roberts. In accordance with its founders’ wishes, the foundation is dedicated to supporting and encouraging excellence in the arts throughout the Capital Region. Since its establishment, the foundation has awarded more than $10 million to nearly 200 area non-profit organizations.