2008 Driskell Prize Winner
Brooklyn-based artist Xaviera Simmons combines 21st-century media and traditional art forms, encompassing photography, performance, video and installation. In her newest photography series, titled "A New Era Americana," she photographs passersby in front of pastoral backdrops on city streets, creating an uncertain and conflicted portrait. In works like these, Simmons uses visual cues to challenge the notion of a constructed identity.
Simmons' most acclaimed work is an installation piece commissioned in 2006 by Art in General for its storefront in New York City. Originally titled "How to Break Your Own Heart: Visitors Welcome," the piece transformed the gallery's project space into a "jazz salon." Since its initial installation, "How to Break Your Own Heart" has tripled in size and traveled to the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston, Texas, and the Zacheta National Art Gallery in Warsaw, Poland.
Born in 1974, Xaviera Simmons became a Cave Canem Poets Fellow in 2002 and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography from Bard College in 2004. She completed a two-year actor-training conservatory program with Maggie Flanagan in 2005, as well as a studio residency with the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program in New York City. In 2007, Simmons was awarded a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant and an "In the Public Realm" commission from The Public Art Fund. In 2008 Simmons will show works at March Gallery, New York City, and at the Bronx Museum of Art in "Street Art, Street Life." She will also serve as an artist-in-residence at Platform Garanti in Istanbul, Turkey. She currently lives and works in Brooklyn, N.Y.