When you walk into Neema Fine Art Gallery, owner Meisha Johnson, immediately makes you feel at home. “My goal is to make everyone who comes through my door feel welcome,” Meisha said. This gallery is a labor of love for Meisha, who has a lifelong passion for art and creative expression.
When her sister attended the College of Charleston, Meisha visited and fell in love with the city. On her next visit, she happened to take a Gullah history tour with a guide who also happened to be a collector of African American art. This began Meisha’s interest in the history and creative accomplishments southern African Americans. “The College of Charleston has an archives library, and I would go and spend hours researching. It fascinated me how many people accomplished great things straight out of slavery.”
Meisha began visiting Charleston often and befriended the former owner of her gallery, Jeannette Cooper. When Jeannette decided to sell her business, she called Meisha first. On December 1, 2018, Neema Fine Art Gallery opened its doors. Neema means favor, grace and prosperity in Swahili.
Neema Gallery represents Southern African American artists from around the region. “My goal is to share these artists’ work with the world,” Meisha began. “Many are in their 70s and 80s and have been working to address systemic racism their entire lives.” The response by art lovers and collectors has been overwhelmingly positive. “People will come in and actually cry as they experience a piece of art.”
“The artists I represent are phenomenal,” Meisha told me. “I have phenomenal art by phenomenal Southern African American artists.” Neema Gallery helps showcase artistic diversity and has a wide range of styles and types of art from realistic oil paintings to jewelry to pottery to abstract art. “When someone connects to a piece of art, I can feel it,” Meisha said, obviously excited about her work. “You are drawn to a piece of art because there is a connection. It speaks to you.”
Stop by Neema Fine Art Gallery and meet Meisha – and on some days, her 7 year old daughter Sabina will be helping her mother. The gallery is located at 3 Broad Street, Suite 100, in Downtown Charleston, on Charleston’s Historic Gallery Row, and is open 10:30am-6pm, Mon – Sat. Visit Neema Gallery’s website at neemagallery.com or call 843-353-8079.