McEachern Art Center Presents Charvis Harrell’s Cartoon Violence: Elegy and Testimony on African-American Symbolism in Imagery

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Charvis Harrell and Ben Dunn

MACON – Mercer University’s McEachern Art Center (the MAC) will re-open its gallery on August 29 with the 2020-21 season’s first exhibition, Cartoon Violence: Elegy and Testimony by Charvis Harrell.

Harrell is a Macon-based artist who was last seen at the MAC speaking on the role of arts in confronting economic injustice. Through art, Harrell seeks to shine light upon the unsightly realities that people live with. Refusing to revolt, he continues his journey to examine the darkness. In 2019, Harrell was featured in the State of the Union National Juried Exhibition.

Cartoon Violence will show how the imagery used to describe Africans in America and their descendants has had a long, cruel history, from the coat of arms of one of the first transatlantic slave vessels “The Good Ship Jesus” to the present-day use of mascots and logos. By exposing the way these images have been used, the lasting effects they can have on identity and esteem, and how they have added to the hardships African-Americans have endured, this artwork is an effort to start a dialogue that begins to look past stereotypes and deal with people as individuals.

“It doesn’t bring me enjoyment to paint these things, but it does give me relief,” Harrell notes of the painful subject matters in his work. “I like my art to be like country music: raw, stripped down, and speaking to what you’re going through.”

The MAC will observe strict social distancing policies for public safety. This will include kicking off the exhibition with an outdoor sidewalk street gallery and artist talk on August 29 at 12 p.m. in order to provide the safest public access to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Face coverings are required while indoors at the MAC and there is limited capacity for indoor events.

The MAC is located at 332 2nd Street in Downtown Macon. Admission is free and open to the public during gallery hours, 4-8 p.m., Thursdays-Saturdays. The opening will start at 12 p.m. and last until 3 p.m. on August 29. Cartoon Violence: Elegy and Testimony will run from August 29-October 16.

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Julia Rubens