Co-Founders Overview • Amber Art & Design 

Amber Art and Design works with individuals, organizations, and leaders dedicated to making positive, lasting, and sustainable changes within their community. The collective is made up of six international artists: Ernel Martinez, Keir Johnston, Charles Barbin, Willis “Nomo” Humphrey, Linda Fernandez, and Siddhartha Joag. Amber believes in the greater power and potential of a collaborative approach to art making and has been using social practice as a method to engage and contribute. Our mission is to leverage art from a point of renewal and service – a platform that invites individuals and communities to grow, express and advocate for positive change.

Amber Art regularly advises on and facilitates art and culture-driven processes between institutions and communities, and are currently participating in national conversations around art, culture, and ethical redevelopment (specifically with Chicago's PlaceLAB).  Their work engages with concepts of restricted movement, public space interaction, and the ways in which fashion and textiles are woven into social structures and spheres.  

 Amber Art & Desig is committed to pushing the boundaries of public art, community practice, and community engagement in visual, performance-based, and event-based work.


Artists


Keir JohnstoN

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Keir studied fine art at California State University at Northridge, and painted his first mural at the age of 18. He found the immense standing of the social impact and the profound community involvement an ideal way to express creative ideals to a broader reaching audience. Becoming an advocate on many social issues and community groups, he has worked collaboratively in the production of murals with life inmates at state penitentiaries, elderly, college students, youth in detention centers, elementary and high school students, mentally and physically disabled and the general public through teaching workshops. 

Keir and Ernel have collaborated on many recent social practice projects around the United States. They regularly advise on and facilitate art and culture-driven processes between institutions and communities, and are currently participating in national conversations around art, culture, and ethical redevelopment (specifically with Chicago's PlaceLAB). This year they are working with the Philadelphia Museum of Art on a city-wide performance for summer 2017 as part of Jeanne van Heeswijk's PHL Assembled, which activates various parts of the city around Economic Sovereignty, Sanctuary, and Reconstructions. They are partnering with the Fairmount Park Conservancy on community events and restoration in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood at the Hatfield House site over the next year. In addition, they are working with the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, New York, on a thorough community process for public art-making. They are committed to pushing the boundaries of public art, community practice, and community engagement in visual, performance-based, and event-based work.

CONNECTING OUR ART WITH CULTURALLY RELEVANT SUBJECTS AND COMMENTARIES ALLOWS US TO EXPAND UPON A TOPIC. IT HELPS US TO REACH NEWS AND MEDIA INFLUENCERS, EDUCATIONAL AND ACADEMIC INFLUENCERS, AND NATIONAL AND LOCAL ORGANIZATIONS—ACTIVATING CHANGE THROUGH GREATER AWARENESS AND COVERAGE.

-Keir Johnston, Co-Founder, Amber Art

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LINDA FERNANDEZ

Linda Fernandez is currently serving as a National Urban Fellow, a joint leadership development and MPA program specifically designed to enhance pathways to leadership for women and people of color who wish to work in the public sector. Over the course of her fellowship she is working in Harlem to research the economic impact of arts and culture and the challenges faced by the arts community as affordable housing stock decreases.  Prior to this Linda served as a Program Associate for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation where she helped manage a grant portfolio of $2.7 million dollars to invest in civic assets and ideas that support diverse and emerging leaders, enhance pathways to economic opportunities, and foster civic engagement.  A graduate of Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, Ms. Fernandez studied Education and holds K-12 Art certification in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. She holds a certificate of Advanced Studies in Contemporary Art from Metafora International Workshop in Barcelona, Spain. She is also a graduate of the National Guild of Community Arts Education, Community Arts Education Leadership Institute.

Recently, Linda's been spearheading the development of "Hecho en" which is the craft market created by people from the neighborhoods where the markets take place. 


Ernel Martinez

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Ernel Martinez was born in the small country Belize, and was raised in South Central Los Angeles and Detroit. His introduction to art was through the underground world of graffiti. He studied art at Pratt Institute; attained his BFA from the Kutztown University; and in 2004 he received his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania. Since then, Ernel has worked with myriad partners on producing murals and public art in Philadelphia and around the U.S.

Keir and Ernel have collaborated on many recent social practice projects around the United States. They regularly advise on and facilitate art and culture-driven processes between institutions and communities, and are currently participating in national conversations around art, culture, and ethical redevelopment (specifically with Chicago's PlaceLAB). This year they are working with the Philadelphia Museum of Art on a city-wide performance for summer 2017 as part of Jeanne van Heeswijk's PHL Assembled, which activates various parts of the city around Economic Sovereignty, Sanctuary, and Reconstructions. They are partnering with the Fairmount Park Conservancy on community events and restoration in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood at the Hatfield House site over the next year. In addition, they are working with the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, New York, on a thorough community process for public art-making. They are committed to pushing the boundaries of public art, community practice, and community engagement in visual, performance-based, and event-based work. 


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Charles Barbin

Charles painted his first barrel at age 16. The rest is history. From small surf shop to flagships, Charle's work has painted big, bold, and bright colors across Philadelphia(and beyond) for over a decade.         

Leading off his career working for the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, Charles made a name for himself. His talents and love for art and natural-born leadership skills helped him establish an electrifying body of work. Once a student at Tyler School of Art, Charle's work has been featured in The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Barnes Foundation among others. In 2014 The Painted Bride exhibited a retrospective of his personal work and paintings. And while the gala went off beautifully for Charles, it's stillnot as cool as riding and painting that very first barrel. 


Willis Nomo

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Born in Mississippi and been on the move ever since. Living all over the U.S. and overseas has given this nomadic artist a broad view on life. A graduate of the Art Institute of Atlanta; Willis channels creative energy thru many outlets from digital design to free-flowing acrylics on substrates that range from clothing apparel to thirty foot murals. His art articulates inner freedom thru outward expression. 


Sidd Joag, New York
 

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Sidd Joag is a visual artist, journalist and community organizer working at the intersection of art, culture, social justice and human rights for over 15 years. He is the Managing Editor of ArtsEverywhere.ca and a coordinator of ArtistSafety.net. Sidd has an MSc in Sociology from the London School of Economics and a MS in Journalism from Columbia University. His paintings, installations and videos have been seen in the US, Canada, India, China, Philippines, Northern Ireland, Honduras, Nicaragua and Brazil.