Amber Art & Design consists of five international artists based in Philadelphia, Ernel Martinez, Keir Johnston, Charles Barbin, Willis “Nomo” Humphries, and Linda Fernandez. Amber works with individuals, organizations, and leaders dedicated to making positive, lasting, and sustainable changes within their community. The collective 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.
Keir Johnston 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; facilitated community 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; the Fairmount Park Conservancy on community events and restoration in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood of Philly; and the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo, NY 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.