In Toni Morrison’s book, Playing in the Dark, she talks about how the foundation of American literature uses a coded language of “darkness” to invoke and imagine “the other”. I thought that it was an interesting counterpoint to gospel music which invokes darkness both literally and metaphorically as a safe place where secrets are disclosed and freedom is found. Thinking also of Aretha Franklin’s “Spirit in the Dark,” which can be read both as a spiritual and a secular song, I invest in an object/image-based practice that deals with the idea of “blackness” and the construction of culture. The juxtaposition of cultural products and black literary work provides me with a way to access some of the troublesome hiccups in our everyday encounters with signs and symbols that I could not put words to.


Tia-Simone Gardner is a mixed media artist working in methods of appropriation and installation.  She investigates a personal and collective experience of Birmingham, Alabama, her place of birth.  Tia is interested in psychological relationships to locations and spaces and the idea of home.  She has collected photographs from the Netherlands, Alabama, New Orleans and Philadelphia and will add Woodstock, NY to that list during her residency.  She holds an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania and a BA from the University of Alabama.  She currently lives in Philadelphia, PA.