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Published on Black Art in America

I know I've been M.i.a in M.i.a but soooo much has happened since I last shared my life's progress here with those who actually read what I write! I miss you all and send my virtual love xoxo.

SO to play a little catch up, I was recently published on who I've been working with for the past year doing advertising sales and foundation groundwork. One of my favorite clients for black art in america, or BAIA as we so affectionately call it, is Savannah college of art and design aka SCAD. Their museum staff continues to amaze me with their exhibition concepts, the permanent collection is astounding, the way they champion their students is second to none, their southern hospitality is authentic, and omg their event menu choices are nothing short of drool worthy. They recently hosted me along with a team of top tier editors for vanity fair, white wall, WSJ, to name a few for SCAD de:fine art 2022. The artists on exhibit deeply impacted me and apparently my editor liked what I wrote about one artist in particular, Doreen Lynette Garner. The President of SCAD, Paula Wallace, even sent me a hand-written note and small original art to thank me for writing it.

I was told it felt like a movie script and that made me feel overjoyed & really proud so I pasted it below for Those of you who enjoy my writing :) I Hope you like it enough to go visit SCAD Museum of Art in person. It will be worth the trip, trust!

Doreen Lynette Garner - Pale In Comparison Written by Tracy Ann Simmonds

Some artists have the innate capacity to consistently destroy, rebuild and then redefine everything we thought we knew about who and what exactly determines good art. I am bold enough to say that Doreen Lynette Garner is rightfully earning her place, specifically in the canon of unparalleled black artists in America who are fearlessly prolific in retelling our diasporic histories. Her exhibition, Pale In Comparison, features all new work “specifically engaging the pathological, palpably extant consequences of colonization and gentrification transmitted through the trans-Atlantic slave trade.

Envision yourself walking into a pitch black room solely illuminated by realistic reproductions of the complexions and qualities of human flesh, apparently fresh glossy bodily fluids, invading organic growths, dismembered limbs in chains, grotesquely diseased innards and highly textured hair. At first glance it was as frightening and overwhelming as a horror house ride but there’s something about the precious jewel-toned vibrancy of it all that continues to draw us in for another look. Welcome to the mind of this young talented SCAD deFINE ART featured sculptor, performer and installation artist. A hesitancy to closely examine the gory details of Doreen’s work immediately rushed into the forefront of my mind. I urged myself to push past the confines of my subconsciously squeamish nature and consciously refocused my eyes. Intuitively, I was guided to slow my stroll as I approached the daunting jaws of a shark sculpture done to scale and carved open on one side as if for an anatomy class only to reveal a horrendous sight. My feet became seemingly cemented to the ground, my eyes unable to look away as the aesthetic beauty of a meticulous composition has the potential to consume a viewer. The shark was beautifully structured, cast and stretched with over five hundred pounds of steel, urethane foam, silicone and mixed media. The blood red glass beads, satin white pearls of all sizes and bling of rhinestones catching the light seduced me while the juxtaposition of traumatic pools of oozing yellow puss, tattooed small pox marks and a wide range of rendered gastro-intestinal processes nearly created the stench of death. As the audience, we witnessed the partial digestion of a mangled brown body with only one recognizable foot still intact. The black box style gallery setting was the perfect choice. The darkness of the walls, ceiling and floor offered spectators the opportunity to fully participate in acknowledging this life changing model depicting a controversial shark from the trans-Atlantic slave trade. It was as if the artist created a center stage moment for her viewers’ reactions, curated by the title When You Are Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea. Personally, my knees buckled and I nearly sat down on the ground as a solitary tear drop formed and regressed. I selfishly wished I had seen it alone and shifted uncomfortably to allow blood to flow back to my feet realizing that I may have been standing still in front of the open shark belly for at least seven minutes. Never before had I been confronted with this aspect of black history, my history in such a visceral manner.

Doreen Lynette Garner forces observers to participate by tapping into the putrid bowels of our ancestral memories, former slavers and former slaves alike, questioning what we all thought we knew about our treacherous past. In the Art21 award winning digital film series New York Close Up, she says “I want the audience to walk away feeling like they can’t unsee what they just saw. Something that is burned in and lasts, and you can never get rid of it”. Mission definitely accomplished sis. When You Are Between The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea was created at SCAD’s Museum of Art over the course of roughly one month prior to opening night February 28, 2022. Her installation team aptly includes her shaman, I’m assuming to bless and protect her pure intentions behind the work. I asked her where all this powerful audacity came from to create such spiritual work on the museum grounds while openly and prayerfully burning incense and sage? She promptly told me about her amazing family and network of strong black women including her mom and aunts in Philly who never “suffer fools” and then offered me some of her tequila.

In the front room were replicas of the flags of the United Kingdom & Portugal comprised of sickly pink silicone diseased skin. On the visible side we saw a decidedly Frankenstein manner of stapled assembly, while mirrors on the wall behind the flags reflected mauled limbs cast in brown silicone shackled and chained together as commentary on the brutal history these flags actually perpetuate and represent. Across from the flags were models of a horse she calls The Pale One and White Bread first shown during Art Basel Miami 2021. When I asked her about White Bread she simply responded with her regally stoic punk rock tone, “it’s the least nutritional food ever”, accompanied by a slight head shake and a smirk. The inner slices of decaying rotting bread surrounded by the brown crust overgrown with wooly black hair were as visually stunning and endlessly thought provoking as Doreen herself, who has the visage of a top model and I can never unsee her. If you didn’t know before now you know and you heard it here first on Black Art in America. Collectors and fellow artists should keep a close watch on this one, she’s clearly a diamond in the silicone rough and superstar in the making. If you’re planning a trip to Savannah, Georgia schedule a visit to the SCAD Museum of Art and Walter O. Evans Collection of African American Art, celebrating its 10 year anniversary and see Doreen Lynette Garner’s new work for yourself. Pale In Comparison is organized by SCAD MOA curator DJ Hellerman. It is presented as part of SCAD deFINE ART 2022 on view now through July 21, 2022.


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