Exhibition Review: Dorothy Graden: Liminal Spaces

She Who Listens

Hi! My name is Julia, and I am a second-year art history student at the University of St Andrews. This summer I am working as an intern at the Evanston Art Center, and I am super excited to explore the ins and outs of EAC.

My favorite work that I have seen is Dorothy Garden’s She Who Listens, a mixed media piece within her exhibit Liminal Spaces.

My first impression, prior to gaining context to its message and production, was how emotional and complex this piece is. In the center of the paper is a downcast face made up of abstract shapes and lines. Surrounding the face, a very clear story is being told in reference to the pain and hardship of the indigenous people. In her introduction to the exhibit, Dorothy wrote about her mission to “introduce art images inspired by the First Americans to people of today.” I see this mission reflected throughout her piece in the scenes displayed around the center figures face. Below the figure is a structure of some sort, consisting of different shapes, colors, and lines. Left of the figure are much smaller figures holding different tools. Above the figure is detailed circular designs and what appears to be a crown, gracing the figures head. I interpreted this piece as a celebration and reflection on the lives of the people who lived in America prior to its colonization. The earthy colors in the background mixed with the abstract figures and lines creates an almost dream like state for the viewer. It almost appears as though the viewer is watching someone’s dreams.  

The main factor that drew me to this piece is founded in Dorothy Garden’s ability to make the shapes and lines appear as though the figures are moving around in their space. While it gives off a more somber tone, the painting is actually quite lively and inviting.


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