Doreen Garner

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Artist Statement

RAP CULTURE, FEMINISM, CRAFT, PATHOLOGY, IDENTITY, FETISH, ABNORMALITY, RACE, SEXUALITY, BEAUTY, ANATOMY, CULTURAL VALUE, AND PERSONAL NARRATIVE. These themes penetrate my artistic practice, collaging into visual depictions of a life that is my own. In sculpture, video, and performance, I reconfigure my perverse observations as a black, Christian, female artist into new, uncanny experiences. The work is raw. The work is twisted. The work is visually combative, challenging the viewer to confront it and me. Conflating difficult materials into compositions that contest established standards of normativity and desirability, I challenge pervasive social conventions, orchestrating comfortability and uncomfortability within the viewing psyche. Whether in stationary works or live actions, my materials also represent a potential translation between contrasting perspectives that we—the viewer, and myself the creator—can use to communicate. Appealing qualities of light and reflectivity for example, are implied through glass, saliva, mirror, wet specimens, glitter, discharge, and Swarovski crystals. These materials secrete and circulate throughout my work-space, thought process, and forms of public address.

BANDANAS, STUFFED CONDOMS, PEARLS, CHAINS, HAIR WEAVE, BEADS, DENTURE-REJECTED TEETH, PAINT, LATEX, MASTERBATORY GRADE SILICONE, COSTUMEJEWELRY, CRUSTALS, GLASS EYES, ZIT-COLORED CABOCHONS, and TAMPONS. These materials populate the interior and exterior surfaces of my sculptural objects—blown ultra-thin glass membranes, fragile visceral tissues resembling tumor forms. Combining elements of the grotesque and the beautiful, the hot glass forms are bulbous, seeping, colorful, transparent, and organic. Embalmed with charged materials occupying their negative space, they are also adorned on the outside to resemble medical images of cancerous phenomena, tissue irregularity, and cellular malignancies—visual obstacles for the viewer to renegotiate against their standards of attraction. As a child, my younger sister had a massive stroke, acquiring physical disabilities and an alternative facial structure that pulled her cheeks, mouth, and ocular muscles aggressively off center. Alongside her, I battled negative attention from the public, knowing the beautiful, glowing, and gentle person that she was beneath that distorted surface.

OBJECTIFICATION, VOYEURISM, BLACK FETISH, CONVENTIONS, SUBJECT, VIEWER, AND POWER. These terms resonate for me as a young black woman growing up watching other black women shake their asses in music videos in bikinis covered in oil, showered with gold and diamonds. In my performances and videos, I produce alternatives to these experiences and depictions of race, gender, sexuality, femininity, objectification, and spectacle. As a black female performer, it is important for me to both accept and reject objectification and vulnerability across the spectrum of seduction and confrontation in order to dismantle persistent disparaging stereotypes.

 

CV

Education
2014 Master of Fine Arts in Glass at Rhode Island School of Design Providence RI
2014 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture Skowhegan, ME
2009 Bachelor of Fine Arts in Glass at Tyler School of Art of Temple University Philadelphia PA

Selected Exhibitions

2015
Young and Loving Group Exhibition S12 Bergen Norway
PUSSY DON’T FAIL ME NOW Group Exhibition Cindy Rucker Gallery, Manhattan NY
Gross Clinic Glass Performance Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk VA
New Work Group Exhibition Urban Glass, Brooklyn NY
International Glass Prize Group Exhibition Glazen Huis Museum, Belgium
International Glass Prize Glass Tower Installation Glazen Huis Museum, Belgium
SHINY / RED / PUMPING Solo Exhibition Vox Populi Gallery, Philadelphia PA

2014
Girl Bye Group Exhibition Rush Arts Gallery, Curator: Rashaad Newsome, New York NY
Skowhegan Performs Group Exhibition Socrates Sculpture Park, Queens NY
Black Ocean / Big Black Motherfucker Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture
ABJECTION Solo Exhibition Bannister Gallery, Providence RI
Rhode Island School of Design MFA Thesis Exhibition Convention Center, Providence RI
More Beautiful for Having Been Broken Brown University List Gallery, Providence RI
Abstract Affinities Group Exhibition Find & Form Space, Boston MA
Our Beloved Community Group Exhibition Expose Gallery, Providence RI

2013
It Doesn’t Show Signs of Stopping Group Exhibition AS220 Project Gallery, Providence RI
The Gaze Group Exhibition Sarah Doyle Gallery, Providence RI
Last Week Group Exhibition Benson Hall Gallery, Providence RI
RISD Glass MFA Biennial Group Exhibition Sol Kofler Gallery, Providence RI
RISD Glass Triennial Group Exhibition Woods Gerry Gallery, Providence RI
Body Talk Group Exhibition Gelman Gallery, RISD Museum Providence RI

Prizes and Awards

2014 Toby Devan Lewis Fellowship Award Rhode Island School of Design

2013 Wood Institute Fellowship Research Grant Recipient College of Physicians of Philadelphia

2012 Rhode Island School of Design Presidential Scholarship Awarded Full Tuition Scholarship

2010 Creative Glass Center of America Fellowship Wheaton Arts and Cultural Center, Millville NJ

Residencies

2015/16 Abrons AIR Space Residency Abrons Art Center, NY

2015 S12 Glass Artist in Residence S12 Bergen, Norway

2014/15 LMCC Workspace Program 2014–2015 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, NY

2014 Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture

Publications

2015
15 Feminist Artists Respond to Censorship of Women’s Bodies Online Huffington Post
Shefolk: Interview with Sculptor and Performance Artist Doreen Garner

2014
GAS News Student Profile: Doreen Garner
Our RISD: MFA Open Studio