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5 minutes with artist Cedric Umoja

Cedric Umoja adds director to his list of artistic accomplishments with his short film “Ten Toes Down,” screening at Indie Grits film festival on March 28.
Cedric Umoja adds director to his list of artistic accomplishments with his short film “Ten Toes Down,” screening at Indie Grits film festival on March 28. Submitted

When it comes to staples in Columbia’s arts community, Cedric Umoja is a pillar. If you don’t know his name, you’ve most likely seen his work.

If you’ve driven down Millwood Avenue, that’s Umoja’s mural he created in partnership with One Columbia. If you’ve attended any art event in the past decade, you’ve most likely come across his afro-futurstic interpretations. Now, Umoja adds director to his list of accomplishments with his short film “Ten Toes Down.”

Q. Tell us about your new short film.

A. My new film, “Ten Toes Down,” is a short film and my first film as a director. It depicts a man, who’s an emissary, conjuring others who perform concern protection and reverence rituals for the land. Particularly, rural forest areas which are being carved out by the corporate machine.

Q. As a creative in Columbia, you’ve had some great pieces of public art. Why is it important for the community to support art?

A. Art should be supported by society as it possesses an ability to enrich the lives of everyone who comes in contact with it. Public art can liven a space that may have previously been deemed or viewed aesthetically undesirable by the community and or city.

Community support of art created by black artists is especially important as the black community needs to be able to see and uphold the work which reflects aspects of its life that’s so rarely given representation in society. It not only uplifts, but also deeply impacts while encouraging aspiration.

Q. As an artist, what are your greatest inspirations?

A. My greatest inspirations are the resilience of my ancestors, the life and wisdom of my artistic old-schoolers and the infinite possibilities of making provided through creativity.

Q. What’s next for you?

A. For starters, I’ll be screening my film at the Indie Grits film festival on March 28. I’m currently in talks with gallery spaces in Detroit and Oakland to exhibit my new work and applying to an extensive artist residency in the Midwest. I’m also entering my film into several national film festivals as well. So, yeah, I’m busy as they say!

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