Performance: Ernel Martinez and Keir Johnston

Friday, December 2, 2016 5.30pm–6.30pm

5:30 PM Ernel Martinez and Keir Johnston, Martyrs’ Day This performance will commemorate the 157th anniversary of the death of abolitionist John Brown, who believed that armed insurrection was the only way to overthrow the institution of slavery in the United States. Amber Art, featuring Ernel Martinez and Keir Johnston, along with sound artist June Lopez, and bassist William Pyramid, will evoke dialog around historical inequities, stemming from the formation of the United States to the current shooting of unarmed black men by police.   Amber Art’s creative collaborations have been incredibly influenced by Terry Adkin’s creative process. The use of history, research, mix-media and collaborations comes directly from Martinez’s time spent studying under Adkins here at Penn.  This collaborative performance speaks to issues of race, class, and the historical absence of power in oppressed populations. Ernel Martinez (b. 1975) was born in Belize and raised in South Central Los Angeles and Detroit. His introduction to the art world came in the form of graffiti. He studied art at Pratt Institute and attainted his BFA from Kutztown University. In 2004 he received his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2003, Ernel began making public art in the city of Philadelphia, as well as working with various non-profits and social services to provide art to disenfranchised youth. His artistic practice focuses on creative methods to give urban communities the tools to tell their stories through art making. He uses their stories as a framework to produce social practice artwork to engage and build dialogue. Keir Johnston studied fine art at California State University at Northridge, and painted his first mural at the age of 18. He has been involved in the production of over 30 large-scale murals throughout the country, and is a founding member of AMBER Art & Design, a collective of five Philadelphia-based public artists. He has worked collaboratively in the production of murals with life inmates at state penitentiaries, the elderly, students, youth at detention centers, the mentally and physically disabled, and the general public. Through his art practice, Johnston acts as an advocate for social issues and community groups.