Charly Palmer navigates the artworld not only as artist but also as illustrator of children’s books, teacher, graphic designer, muralist, mentor to emerging artists and is highly sought after for public commissions of art and design.
Palmer’s early fascination with illustrations at age five, a supportive and influential teacher at the Milwaukee Art Center Satellite High School Program, his studies in Chicago at American Academy of Art and School of the Art Institute have all contributed to creating an illustrious almost 40-year career. He remains extremely popular and his work is widely collected.
Working primarily with acrylic paint, Palmer has pursued figurative work. In this series presented here, Palmer celebrates beauty, strength, courage and pride. He adorns his figures with crowns of vibrant flowers granting regality to his subjects.
“The flowers are about celebrating, gifting and expressing love for yourself and others. When I use flowers, people tend to align it with femininity when it really is about beauty”
As a new historian Palmer expresses his love and undying interest in history by chronicling part of American history and current social and political issue in his artwork. He brings a unique style and technique to creating pictorial compositions that are easily recognizable as Charly Palmer. Issues of civil rights, social justice and empowerment permeate his work. In these two pieces what appear as nostalgic scenes of African American rural life become a more complex pictorial composition when the historical images that form the backdrop of the paintings become obvious.
“I’m fascinated and moved by history in particular specifically, African American history. Art was my way of expressing what I felt about the African American journey. With art, I am able to share my ideas and thoughts in colour.”
Palmer’s work is in private and public collections which include Atlanta Life Insurance, McDonald’s Corporation, Miller Brewing Company, the Coca Cola Company and Vanderbilt University and the estate of Maya Angelou. Palmer’s work was commissioned for the 1996 Olympics and the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau. In 2016, he was selected to execute original artwork commemorating Fisk University’s 150th year anniversary; in 2017, he accomplished the same for Howard University.
He completed a project with the Green Bay Packers which features art for the Lambeau Stadium. Palmer recently illustrated two children's books, There's A Dragon In My Closet and Mama Africa—a children’s book chronicling the life of Miriam Makeba--for which he received the 2018 Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award. Palmer remains in high demand for significant commissions. He currently lives and works in Atlanta, GA.