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The Amistad Center for Art and Culture is pleased to announce that Merik Goma is the first Joyce C. Willis Artist in Residence. Made possible by a generous grant from the Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation, this $ 150,000 program includes an eighteen-month residency and will conclude with an exhibition of newly created works. The Goma exhibition will open in January 2023 in the galleries of the Amistad Center.

Merik Goma, originally from Manistee, MI, is a New Haven-based photographer and recently graduated from the NXTHVN Fellowship Program, an art incubator founded by acclaimed artist Titus Kaphar. Goma builds complex sets in his studio which he uses both as subjects for paintings and as a backdrop for portraits or scenes for narrative photographs. His technique of setting up his scenes is pictorial in his execution, with particular attention to color and lighting. His work has been presented by the Tilton Gallery, at Art Basel, and is part of the collection of Yale University.

Goma will have access to the Amistad Center’s comprehensive collection of art and artifacts to inspire and inform its new body of work. Throughout the residency, he will be a valuable resource for the Amistad Center, especially as the Amistad Center shapes educational events and public programming around the artist and his technique.

Learn more about Merik Goma HERE.

At the end of 2020, the Roberts Foundation announced a $ 500,000 initiative to support excellence and equity in the arts, which also included donations to the Hartford Stage and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. The program is named in honor of Joyce C. Willis, former member of the Roberts Foundation board of directors, founding member and former chairman of the Amistad Center board, member of the Orchestra’s board of directors Hartford Symphony and ardent supporter of Hartford Stage. Willis, who retired from 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 will also encourage other organizations to examine their efforts to promote racial equity in the arts,” said Lisa M. Curran, Executive Director. of the Roberts Foundation. “We hope this initiative is the first step in encouraging local nonprofits to embrace cultural change and increase their investment in artists of color.”

“The Amistad Center is very grateful to the Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation for their commitment to supporting black artists in such a meaningful way,” said Kimberly Kersey, Executive Director of the Amistad Center. “Creating a space for outstanding black artists such as Merik Goma to delve 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 channel to preserve Joyce Willis’ memory and legacy Joyce was a valued member of our Board of Directors and of the greater Hartford arts community.