Central College will welcome the works of Bharat Ajari to the Mills Gallery from Feb. 15 to March 12 as part of the college’s Black History Month programming. His exhibit is titled “The Miseducation of Bharat Ajari.”
A visual artist and photographer, Ajari’s work focuses on creating paintings of contemporary African American and Black life, both in content and palette choice. His work is an exploration of color as a reference to people of African descent and as a vivid, bold approach to applying paint to canvas.
“My work assumes a meaning of color that is primarily post-modern: It means different things to different people. Regarding color as an ontological reference to people of African descent … I am using the term “color” to explore and celebrate the meaning of a community’s lived experiences,” Ajari says. “These lived experiences range from celebration and joy to pain and sorrow, the entire gamut of human possibilities. The identification of being a people of color impacts the lives of people of color.”
Ajari’s style is grounded in post-modernism and inter-subjective perspectives. The primary investigation of his work is what it means to be Black.
“The figures in my paintings are an existential expression of Blackness where Blackness is both the search and an open-ended question of what it means to be human, including those figures that are ‘non-African American/Black,’ or white,” Ajari says.
Ajari is an adjunct instructor in psychology and writing at Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri. He is currently in an artist residency program at the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, where he teaches art to high school students. Most recently, Ajari has begun teaching creative writing with Healing and Arts, a St. Louis-based program designed to help adults re-entering society.
Ajari has a Doctor of Ministry and Master of Divinity from Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri; a master’s in professional counseling from Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri; and a bachelor’s in English with an emphasis in creative writing and a Black studies minor from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He has exhibited his artwork in solo and group art shows in several galleries in St. Louis and St. Charles.
An artist’s talk is yet to be determined. The Mills Gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.