Featured Premier Artist: Gerri McCritty
Gerri McCritty is a multidisciplinary artist. She was born in Liberia, West Africa, and she came to the USA on the Student Exchange Program. Gerri could not return home because Liberia erupted in a civil war. Over the years she worked odd jobs, until she was eligible to get her Green Card through the Amnesty Program, and a couple years after she was granted US citizenship while living in Lancaster. She has lived and served in the Lancaster community over the past twenty plus years. “I felt a continuous burning desire to satisfy and elevate my inner spirit and outer self by living the true artist that I believe I am.” “I wanted to get my credentials as a professional artist, and I always dreamed of owning my own gallery, but one without the normal European gallery look. With my Almighty’s help, I gathered the strength and mentally prepared myself to go back and complete my degree as a non-traditional student. I graduated from Millersville University with the Art degree I always wanted, and I am the proud co-owner of PAVAA Gallery, which has been in existence since 2015.” Besides painting, she specializes in creating sculptures from wood, bronze, clay, plaster, and found objects. She is also a professional DJ, and afro-percussionist. Ms. McCritty studied art, drumming, and performance her entire life beginning with the elders in her family. She also studied at the historic Kendejah School of Arts and Crafts in Liberia, West Africa. Gerri has also studied under a variety of African and African American master drummers, internationally and locally. She continues to create by commission, and performs both in and outside of the Lancaster community. Some of those organizations she has performed or exhibited with include the Imani Edu-Tainers African Dance Company, Theatre for Transformation (TFT), Music For Everyone, (MFE), The Femina Network Organization, Demuth Museum, the Millersville University Ware Center, and other organizations and events.
GERRI’S ARTIST STATEMENT
The nature of my work is earthly and rhythmic, and it aims to bring out emotions we all feel globally in today’s world. Africans celebrate the happiness & sadness of life with dance & rhythms. They say, “suffering but still smiling.” My work reflects the experience of my transitions, reflecting my West African roots and the rhythm of life in Lancaster, PA. These two rhythms are deeply connected to me.
My work seeks to reveal racial injustices, promote environmental awareness, and bring out the emotions of happiness, sadness, discomfort, and the notion of elegance, dignity, pride and passion as notes to the rhythms using mixed media and found objects. I connect with materials like bronze, metal, wood, and cardboard etc. I believe these are materials that connect with everyday life.
Over the years, Gerri has traveled back and forth to her native country Liberia, West Africa sharing her skills and experiences in learning, and exchanging the traditional and cultural art and rhythms of villages in Liberia with various communities in Lancaster, Pa.
Gerri’s motto is: Art + Music = Love