Joyce Garner documents her rich inner world (a world of acrobats, wanderers, animals, magic, city and forest) in large, vividly-pigmented surrealist paintings. Garner has had fourteen solo exhibitions of her work since 1991. She co-initiated and developed three extensive collaborative projects (“Ladies’ Lunch,” “The Marriage Project,” and “Yes We Both Paint—a Mother-Daughter Collaboration”) and traveled to Northern Ireland to participate in a project (“Links That Connect Us”) in which she worked collaboratively with Belfast painter Ray Duncan.
More recently she founded an open studio with textile artist Denise Furnish in the center of Louisville KY’s gallery district. Through this effort, visitors have access to her creative process.
Garner is a self-taught artist. The painterliness and scope of her work reflects deep study of various forerunners—Cassatt, Matisse, Picasso, Chagall. More contemporary influences are Grace Hartigan, Paula Rego, Juan Muñoz, and Roy DeForest. Her ambitions for her work are shaped by how she uses art in her personal life; she prefers art which rewards extended meditative contemplation. “I love to sit in front of a piece in the mornings with a cup of hot tea in my hands, and let my mind go. I want art that gives me a place to go.” Her paintings move and refresh the viewer’s eye with evocative details, veiled layers of paint, and patterns that undulate.
A native Kentuckian, Garner’s earliest influences were American pop culture (television, comics, and coloring books), fairy tales, children’s novels such as Alice in Wonderland, Appalachian craft traditions and the lamp-lit realities of rural living. Joyce describes her work as “a world of my own making. I can enter in and really spend time there. And when I’m in the painting, it feels like magic.”