Featured Premier Artist: Gerri McCritty
Gerri McCritty is an immigrant from Liberia, West Africa. Gerri came to the USA on the Student Exchange program during high school. Her plan was to complete her high school and college education and return to Liberia. She started college, but had to drop out because a civil war erupted in Liberia and her parents could no longer support her. She spent years in survival mode working odd jobs, and living in fear under an expired Student Visa. She got married, had a son, got divorced and then struggled as a single parent. She would DJ for events and parties, and do paintings and murals for friends and relatives. Some of them promised to pay her for her work, but never did leaving her feeling discouraged. One day, a close friend asked her to DJ for her party. All of her guests loved what Gerri played, and her friend was so impressed by the techniques Gerri had learned, that she insisted on buying her two turntables to show her appreciation for their friendship. That allowed Gerri to get DJ gigs for private parties and large clubs. Eventually, Gerri gathered up the courage, and mentally prepared herself to go back to college as a non-traditional student. Gerri says, “Presently, I am proud to say that I am living proof that it’s never too late to learn. One can learn until the day they die. Never give up on your dreams, they can come true. But! You have to be willing to do the work.”
“I have been an artist and percussionist in my heart and soul all my life. I came from a family that did not believe one could be successful in Art and Music. For that reason, I suppressed the gift that the Almighty gave me, and searched for a career I could live on, but still had the burning desire deep inside me of wanting to be an artist and owning my own art gallery. Gerri eventually became a US Citizen under the Amnesty program and today she is one of the proud owners of PAVAA, a gallery for Performance and Visual Afrocentric Arts.
GERRI’S ARTIST STATEMENT
My objective has always been to share my passion of art and music as a form of therapy, provide entertainment, and help people explore and bring out their creativity. Most of the art in PAVAA is based on a symbolic reflection of my African and African American roots. I choose to express my creations by using organic materials of everyday life, and found objects. I am inspired by my West African culture and philosophy of carrying burdens, which I refer to as loads of life, centering the spirit, respecting mother earth, the universe, and showing love of the human race.
It is important to me that my creations reveal the INDIGENOUS, the customs and characteristics of a culture, and honor the traditions of our ancestors. The art in PAVAA is dedicated to all NATIVE OR INDIGENOUS customs whether African, Asian, American, or European.”
Gerri’s motto is: Art + Music = Love