Sculpture of a miniature paddle boat painted black, with white text reading: 'fuck mark twain'

Meet Spillways Resident Tia-Simone Gardner

Tia-Simone Gardner will use her time in residence at Spillways to expand on her current research around ideas of Black Geographies, time and the Mississippi River. While in New Orleans she will work with other artists and designers to imagine ways to narrate various sites within the Mississippi River landscape (and on the Mississippi River) connected to Black mobility, struggle, pleasure, and extraction.

Photo of Tia Simone Gardner

Tia-Simone Gardner is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and Black feminist scholar. Working primarily with drawing, images, archives, and spaces, Gardner has made a practice of tracing Blackness in landscapes, above and below the grounds surface. Through her work with still and moving images, she brings together fragments of things and lives alongside the events and the places to which they gave meaning. Ritual, disobedience, geography and geology are the spectres are recurring themes that cross her work. Gardner grew up in Fairfield, Alabama, across the street from Birmingham and learned to see landscape, capitalist extraction, and containment, through this place. She received her BA in Art and Art History from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. In 2009 she received her MFA in Interdisciplinary Practices and Time-Based Media from the University of Pennsylvania followed by her participation as a Studio Fellow Whitney Independent Study Program. Gardner has been an invited artist at a number of national and international artist residencies including the Center for Photography at Woodstock, A Studio in the Woods, and IASPIS Sweden. She has also been awarded a number of fellowships for her work including the McKnight Visual Artist Fellowship and the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship. Her current work brings the questions of Black geography to questions of geology in order to examine ideas of race and landscape along the Mississippi River and her home in Fairfield/Birmingham, Alabama.

Within her studio practice she maintains a writing practice that includes recent articles and essays of the experimental kind: 

“There’s Something in the Water” The work on the river has shown in New Orleans, Minneapolis and Berlin Germany as a part of the Haus derr Kulturen der Welt, Mississippi: An Anthropocene River collaboration with artists, scientists, and intellectuals working across throughout the Mississippi watershed. “Chronotopophobias” an essay that precedes the work she is beginning to research. As a part of this work she has been invited to be a  Smithsonian Artist in Research Fellow for the summer of 2021. This project looks at Blackness, extraction, and landscape with her mother that addresses questions of biopolitics, Black memory and indigeneity by looking at the houses that the women in her family lived in the post-bellum South. A part of this work was recently published by Georgia Journal, an independent art publication in Los Angeles produced by Shoghig Halajian, Suzy Halajian, and Anthony Carafello, “Land(s)crape” an essay about the accelerated abraiding of Black, Indigenous, Brown and Asian spaces from city spaces published by Scape, a landscape architecture journal published in the Twin Cities by American Society of Landscape Architects and Edited by Jen Krava and Ethan McKnight.  Tia-Simone currently lives in Saint Paul, Minneaota.