Adrienne Gaither is a power to be reckoned with. Her geometric style is stark and familiar, with a focus on her own adaptation of the alphabet. Gaither’s use of color sets the mood for each of her pieces, bringing out subliminal messages through tone.
That’s what drew me to her recent work at MoCADA. On February 6, MoCADA held an opening for Gaither’s new vision, Formed in Fate, which I got to attend. Gaither had two series on display for the Formed in Fate exhibit, which delved into the inspiration she inherited from her ancestors, and the many shades of colorblindness.
I loved that her work held an abundance of complexity and simplicity. The concepts ran deep, but were crafted so simply for the eye to digest. Eye Don’t See Color came out of Gaither being curious and fed up. “I’d met a few people who were clinically colorblind and found this to be fascinating. I wanted to share that experience with my audience so I painted the visual palettes of colorblindness.” She also explains the double entendre of the project, “And on the flip side of this, I’d find myself in conversations about race and the racist quote of denial would rear it’s ugly head, ‘I don’t see color.’ I thought to myself, ‘what does it look like to ‘not see color’ in the context of race?” It was a beautiful awe to see each pigment and shade dissect and blend into one another.
The other half of the exhibit, Memoirs of Permanence: A Winning Hand, was a personal piece of Adrienne Gaither, about her family members, their influence, and the fact that we don’t choose our families. “I have to play the hand I was dealt to win, no matter what. I acknowledge this universal fact in my work by using archival photographs of my family and the playing cards to highlight familial prominence and influence.” Essentially, excel despite your circumstances. Your family’s history should inspire you, but never hold you back.
A strong statement Gaither expressed was, “I want people to get that we do the best we can with our fate.” What I got from that is our fate is ours for now, but it is not our destiny. Twerk yourself some new ground in the arena you play; fierce and unapologetic. Do it for the ancestors that couldn’t dance.
I’d like to end this piece on what blackness means to Adrienne Gaither. “Blackness is infinite and means everything to me. It’s my ancestors and the rich history I am a part of. It’s the influence our lives past, present, and future, our culture has made around the globe. It’s the constant reminders of the work that needs to be done. We are the pinnacle of creativity.. we set trends, invent slang, create movements. We are the future.”