How I Got Over (Review)

How I Got over (January 13-February 24) by Adrienne Gaither is the latest exhibition showing at DC’s Transformer art space.

I didn’t plan to write a blog post, but I was inspired by the artist talk with artist Adrienne Gaither, for Transformers 15th annual DC Artist Solo Exhibition. The show is described as follows:

How I Got Over presents a new body of paintings and collage works recounting Gaither’s personal recovery from traumatic events in her life. Gaither expresses the impact of trauma and visualizes what it means to become “whole” again while addressing the parallels between recovery and painting as time based processes…

Adrienne presents a series of paintings, in bold and bright hues. I appreciate the way her work doesn’t hide and I am always so impressed (not in a condescending way) by Adrienne’s work for this reason. it’s power, boldness and confidence attract me. Since the first time I ever saw it in person, at the DC Arts Center in a curated show Public Displays of Privacy (2016) by curator Martina Dodd.

How I Got Over is intimate and powerful. The works, many created on large canvas, are layered and give a sense of complexity. It is even more intriguing in the way that Adrienne is able to communicate a story through abstract art. I’ve recently become more interested in finding and understanding a black aesthetic in abstract art. As a genre within the art world, it is one that is not associated with artists of color, and most certainly not women of color. Black artists are valued for their depictions of oppression and trauma typically in figurative works. And although, Adrienne’s work depicts a process working through certain traumas she’s experienced, she does so carefully through color and shapes. It is through the complexity of her art that the audience is moved through a flux of emotions, because that’s how emotions work, if we are fortunate—in flux, to create a tapestry of experience.

Women in the Arts recently showed of Magnetic Fields: Expanding American Abstraction, 1960s to Today (October 2017 -January 2018), which featured works of abstract art by 21 black women artists, born between 1891 and 1981. It was nothing I had seen before. I like many, was unaware of the ways in which black women have been and are inhabiting the abstract art world in such large numbers. Show’s like How I Got Over and Magnetic Fields are a reminder to afford folks of color space to just create. They deserve to be given space to express a range of emotions. A requirement of an artist, or persons of color, should not be for us to reenact our own trauma for the sake of your amusement. We are more than our trauma—we are joy, we are abundance—and it takes many shapes, forms and colors. Emotion is human, and to deny us that expression is a denial of our humanity. How I Got Over is a beautiful, layered, bold, and at times calculated, some times jagged but always tender show of humanity.

Mary Lovelace O’Neal, “Racism is Like Rain, Either it’s Raining or it’s Gathering Somewhere,” 1993; Acrylic on canvas, 86 x 138 in.; Mott-Warsh Collection, Flint, Michigan; © Mary Lovelace O’Neal, Magnetic Fields (2017)

How I Got over runs from January 13-February 24.


Adrienne Gaither (b.1987) is a visual artist whose work explores color and shape to recompose various ways of communicating an idea. Her works can be conceptual and narrative, serious and playful, and are distinctly constructed with influences of West African Patternmaking, Suprematism, Constructivism, Minimalism, the Bauhaus, and Abstraction.

She has exhibited at Strathmore in Bethesda, MD, The National African American Museum and Cultural Museum, Wilberforce, OH, PRIZM Art Fair at Miami Art Basel, and MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts) in Brooklyn, NY. Gaither lives and works in Washington, DC.

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