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My Heart is Light in the Void

Merik Goma | Joyce C. Willis Artist in Residence at The Amistad Center for Art & Culture

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Merik Goma | Joyce C. Willis Artist in Residence at The Amistad Center for Art & Culture

Merik Goma | Joyce C. Willis Artist in Residence at The Amistad Center for Art & Culture

For New Haven-based photographer and artist Merik Goma, art creates opportunities to look at things from different perspectives. As the inaugural Joyce C. Willis Artist in Residence at the Amistad Center for Art & Culture, Goma has spent the past 18 months immersed in The Amistad Center's art, artifacts, and archives and preparing to unveil his latest work, “My Heart is Light in the Void.” 

The need to create came early for Goma, “I’ve always been interested in making things and I’ve always had a lot of respect for makers,” he says. Goma began drawing in middle school but admits he didn’t consider himself an artist until he truly recognized the need to immerse himself in creative, complex projects. 


“I realized that I needed to always be doing something creative,” explains Goma. “I also realized there was a large drive for me to make a physical object become part of a photograph.” 

Goma has a unique ability to tell a story through a photograph. He carefully manipulates the placement of each object and the lighting, creating captivating and thought-provoking images.


As his artistic style evolved, Goma leaned into the concept of “narrative photography,” which he says occurred by happenstance when he discovered the “practical lighting” technique that is often used in film.  


“I really enjoy the idea of the light source not being completely obvious to the viewer, framing lighting in a way that has a cinematic look to it, and then pushing that within the medium of photography itself,” says Goma. 

“There’s not always a sense of scale within a photo, and that’s something fun to play with,” explains Goma. “Sometimes people need things that are tangible—even more so if you’re trying to build a world or create an idea people can place themselves into.” 

During his artist residency at The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, while he was looking through the photos in the collection, Goma says he was moved by the moments of joy and aspiration he saw in the photos' objects.

"Through this window into the past, I saw the generational vastness of the Black diaspora and was inspired by everyday life. There and then, I found the inspiration for the series My Heart is Light in the Void, " he shares.

Photographs by Merik Goma 

“The Amistad Center is so grateful to The Edward C. and Ann T. Roberts Foundation for its commitment to support Black artists in such a meaningful way,” says Kimberly Kersey, executive director of The Amistad Center. “Creating space for exceptional Black artists such as Merik Goma to dive deeper into their work and process benefits not only the selected artist but the community at large. It is such a privilege for The Amistad Center to serve as a conduit for preserving Joyce Willis’ memory and legacy. Joyce was a valued member of our Board of Trustees and the greater Hartford arts community.”

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