Doreen Lynette Garner

'Pale In Comparison'

For the past 10 years, Doreen Lynette Garner’s beautiful and grotesque sculptures have exposed medically sanctioned racial violence against Black bodies. An inscriber of flesh, she conjures historic and contemporary traumas from physical objects with the specific intent of evoking complex emotional experiences in her audience. Taking an experimental accumulative approach, Garner casts uncommon combinations of materials — barbed wire, silicon, glass-fiber insulation, plastic, Vaseline, artificial hair, crystals, pearls — into anthropomorphic forms resembling fragmented, even amputated, anatomical parts of human and animal remains.

Signature image for Doreen Garner exhibition
Doreen Lynette Garner, "Layers" (detail), 2016. Courtesy of the artist and JTT, New York.

Witnessing how awareness of the continued, sanctioned executions of Black people has risen among the white public over the past two years, Garner has recently reconsidered the depiction of Black skin that characterizes her previous work. For Pale In Comparison, the artist presents all new work with a redirected focus onto white flesh and whiteness, specifically engaging the pathological, palpably extant consequences of colonization and gentrification transmitted through the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Garner’s works quite literally reference diseases and viruses — smallpox, mumps, yellow fever, typhoid fever, scarlet fever, the bubonic plague, syphilis, and many others — that European colonizers introduced to indigenous populations and which ravaged Black and brown bodies and communities.

Confronting how these histories of violence continue to actively shape our present, Pale In Comparison is purposefully challenging in both subject matter and content. It’s impossible to unsee or to forget what the work is about. Communicating narratives so frequently overlooked, Garner tasks her audiences with rooting out the explicit racism in our societies — and, often unacknowledged, in ourselves.

About the artist

Brooklyn-based artist Doreen Lynette Garner (b. 1986, Philadelphia) holds a B.F.A. from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University and an M.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design. She is a recipient of the Toby Devan Lewis Award, the Van Lier Fellowship Award, and a Franklin Furnace Grant. Select exhibitions include White Man on A Pedestal at Pioneer Works, Brooklyn; Surrogate Skin: The Biology of Objects at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, Brooklyn; Ether and Agony at Antenna Gallery, New Orleans; SHINY RED PUMPING at Vox Populi Gallery, Philadelphia; and STATEMENTS at Art Basel, Switzerland. Garner has completed residencies with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Abrons Art Center, and Pioneer Works (2016), as well as the GAPP Residency at the Toledo Museum of Art.

Install Views


Pale In Comparison is organized by SCAD MOA curator DJ Hellerman. It is presented as part of SCAD deFINE ART 2022.

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