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Meet Donna Garcia

Today we’d like to introduce you to Donna Garcia.

Donna, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
At my core, I have always been an artist. I started out as a painter and fell in love with the creative process. While still in high school, I began to study photography under the mentorship of the great Walter Scott. Scott, who was a noted photographer for Time and Life Magazines. But, even with the encouragement of my mentor, by the time I got to college, I did not feel that art could create a viable profession from me, so I put down the camera to pursue a corporate marketing career.

I have a BA in International Relations and an MS in Communications. I went on to hold prominent positions for the US Embassy, London and later Ogilvy in NYC.

During this period, I began writing a number of published features and was taking photos as a “value add” to the stories. This put the camera back in my hands- for good. In March of 2016, I became a fine art photographer full time and enrolled in The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Atlanta, where I earned my MFA in photography.

During my time at SCAD, I co-founded the Garcia | Wilburn Gallery in Buckhead with my business partner, Darnell Wilburn. We were both full-time students but recognized that most artists (including us) could not even afford gallery rentals for their required thesis exhibitions. We were committed to providing an affordable, professional space for emerging artists and we did. We hosted over 20 shows/events in 18 months for emerging artists and charities, at an affordable price.

I am also very active in mentoring female artists in marketing and business, to help them to ascend to positions
of influence within the art community.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
For me, the biggest challenge was financial. I had to do something else to make money before I could afford to be a full-time artist. Being an artist is very competitive and our society doesn’t value art or artists as much as it should, in my opinion. There are many struggles, but I try to view success and failure the same – just as ways of moving me forward.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of. What sets you apart from others?
I am a fine art photographer whose work elaborates on the idea of pulling away from a cultural grand narrative and towards a state of becoming and potential. My work modulates against a fixed self and reflects a grounding in being. I create images that аre indexical in nature, not iconic – they are uncertain and indeterminate. The idea of time oscillation is throughout my work and reads neither in one place nor another – destabilizing the viewer’s perspective. I use abstraction to pull the viewer forward into new sovereignty, expanded possibility and towards the authenticity of an unbounded self.

Self-portraiture with motion and the idea of animism provide an indication of the other in my work, a threat to the fixed position. It is a surplus threat to the perpetuity of the modern-day superstructure in defining elements like gender equality. Otherness is much more because it is grounded in being and is non-binary in nature. My work is evocative and represents the trace of what is coming.

I consider myself a visual storyteller or lyrical documentarian. Often my themes surround women or historical groups of women, such as The Radium Girls and the Japanese Ama.

What sets me apart is that the lens becomes less of a judge in my work; the idea of reproduction and reportage becomes ambiguous. There is a gap in what is expected and what you аre presented with, making my images uncanny. This level of uncertainty is unexpected in photographs and reveals a liminal moment that is indeterminate vs. the straight reportage nature of photography to replicate what it sees.

My work is created in a landscape that is in-between, a space created to allow the images to be both and to be neither. It becomes an undefined area for interpretation. In this space, time stands still, illustrating the idea
of “If you have no time, what is time like?” and “If you have no time, what is life like”?

My photographs reveal the self as having a stronger potential that does not correlate with bounded social norms – my subjects do not abide by rules or a particular order. If my photographs were documents they would depict an analog, static duplication of me as a unit within a specific representational schema, but they do not. I slip outside of the rigidity of the group by creating an unstable image, in which the subject operates through two points, in a kind of in-between, a liminal space and time. So, when my images become uncanny, they illustrate a destabilization from the strict, scientific representation that limits them, to a state that frees the full potential of the subject.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I try to always be in a position to create or accept opportunity when it presents itself. For me, that means I have to always be doing fresh projects and meeting new people. All of the “good luck” that I personally have had was always proceeded by a lot of hard work.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Donna Garcia

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