We are delighted to have artist and educator Donna Garcia join our team at the Griffin as a curator and instructor. Donna will be a part of our upcoming show Spirit: Focus on Indigenous Art, Artists and Issues, and she will be teaching a one-day workshop, Marketing for Emerging Artists on Saturday, April 24th, along with her Self Portraiture class, taking place this fall. To see what gets her in the Griffin State of Mind, we asked her a couple of questions.
Describe how you first connected with the Griffin.
Paula Tognarelli was a juror for a show that I had been selected for in New York City, and she really made me want to learn more about the Griffin.
Can you tell us about the workshop and the new classes you will be teaching at the Griffin?
I am excited to be able to share my experience in marketing and as an emerging lens-based artist, who has had to navigate ways to market my own work, in a one-day workshop, Marketing for Emerging Artists. However, Self-Portraiture is my passion. It is not just a contemplation of self, but it is a way we allows others to see us, reflects how we see the world and our place in it. Particularly during this past year, as we have all experienced an alienation of self in many ways.
We are so excited to have you join us as a curator for the Spirit: Focus on Indigenous Art, Artists and Issues. Can you tell us a little bit about the show and how a sense of spirit will influence the exhibition?
Spirit is an initiative designed to educate the public, through lens-based art, regarding the true history of Indigenous people and recruit advocates for Indigenous issues everywhere, but with a specific focus on the US and Canada, where native lands and people аre still coming under attack. Collectively, this exhibition offers a partial glimpse, rather than a sweeping overview, of the many complex issues that Indigenous people navigate as part of their lived realities. It reflects, in part, the intricate nature of Indigenous identity. These ten artists have created images that reveal expressions of trauma, resiliency, resistance, healing, tradition, celebration and the undying spirit to preserve Indigenous culture even through the ravaging effects of centuries of colonization.
As an adjunct professor you have said that mentoring students is very important. Can you tell us about why it is important to you to establish a time where students can come to you for support?
Teaching and learning the basic techniques of photography or filmmaking аre very straight forward, but learning to be an artist cannot be taught, it can only be learned. To help my students discover more about who they аre as artists and what they want to say, involves asking them the right questions, which only they can answer – that is how I view mentorship. That time of exploration where we find our own voice as artists usually happens before, after or in-between lectures.
How do you involve photography in your everyday life? How have your subjects changed during these unique times of distance and isolation?
As an artist who does a great deal of self-portraiture, photography is a conduit between my self and the world outside. Photography is often a way that I visually define my role during a particular time. We all have three “roles” in time; the person we are in the present, the past and the future, so what happens when we only have the present? During the pandemic, time became elongated, stretched out, hence those “roles” stopped being linear and for me, the challenge became about dealing with a distancing or alienation of self just as much as being isolated from others.
What is one of your favorite exhibitions shown at the Griffin?
The Disappearance of Joseph Plummer, by Amani Willett. I absolutely love that work.
What is one book, song, or other visual obsession that you have at the moment?
I have read a lot of Joan Didion over the past year with Slouching Towards Bethlehem and The White Album being two that I would read again. One of my favorite quotes from her is, “I have already lost touch with a couple of the people I used to be” – Joan Didion.