A public garden & cultural center

Doreen Garner

Sunroom Project Space | September 13–October 23, 2016          
Van Lier Visual Artist Fellow          

Flora:Viscera, 2016, silicone and mixed media, dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist.

Doreen Garner’s work identifies, mines and exploits the tissues that bind the sexual and the grotesque, specifically regarding the black female body. In Garner’s sculptures, videos and performances, the artist directs an oppositional gaze toward fetish, objectification and racism, taking back power by upending the experience of the privileged viewer. Garner formulates an amalgamation of materials, such as beads, crystals, silicone, rubber, teeth, condoms, teddy bear stuffing and petroleum jelly, held together by glass walls or latex membranes, to suggest viscera. As a Van Lier Visual Artist Fellow, Garner began conceptualizing her Sunroom Project during Wave Hill’s 2016 Winter Workspace. Observing plant forms and patterns in Wave Hill's Marco Polo Stufano Conservatory, Garner started work on a new series of mixed-media sculptures.  

For her sculptural installation in the Sun Porch, Garner connects the human body to plant life, the sensual to the bizarre. She was inspired by the amazing variety of textures and shapes of the exotic flora in the Conservatory’s Tropical House. Some have cyst-like pockets, while others have surfaces that resemble human skin or parts that look analogous to knuckles or elbows. Garner began to imagine how she could alter the way that people perceive nature by creating sculptures that merge qualities of both plants
and humans. Made of a special type of silicone commonly found in prosthetics, special-effects make-up and erotic toys, these hybrids resemble organs that could have come from a dissected human body. Arranged in display cases like specimens in a science laboratory or medical museum, the artist hopes that these fantastical, yet lifelike, body parts will change the way the viewer considers the significance of plant life, and how we value certain life forms over others.


Flora: Viscera, 2016, silicone and mixed media, dimensions variable. Photo: Stefan Hagen.

Winter Workspace Program
Glyndor Gallery | February 16–March 27, 2016

In her work, Doreen Garner examines the sensual and the grotesque, specifically regarding the black female body. The stories of Henrietta Lacks and Saartjie Baartman, both victims of Dr. J. Marion Sims and both treated as deviant spectacle and disposable specimen, inform her multi-media practice. In the Winter Workspace, Garner began a new series of multi-media works that draw comparisons between the human anatomy and plant structures that she observed in Wave Hill’s Conservatory. The drawings and sketches she made evoke the growth of cells, dissected skin and mangled bodies.

 Artist website

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Michael J. Shannon; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.