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Letter to Kim Garcia from Liz Stringer

Dear Kim,

What does it mean to stare directly at the things that haunt us? Do they haunt us just because they circulate in a mind, or are they things that just cause friction to our identity? Do these shades watch us from a distance, wild eyes peering back at us from the shadows? She has her mother's eyes, but I seem to get caught between the you and the I…you are a person who stares back boldly and unapologetically–I’m envious of how brave you are for looking at the relationship with your mother. She is you, and you are her. How do you define the intricacies that prove this false? I bottle these hauntings, unlike you loosening the cork.

You take the oral history of your mother, one twisted by fiction and self-protection, and as your body reperforms the gait of that story, so does your mind embrace its meaning. I am personally obsessed with fantasy that becomes a memory and memory that invests itself into fiction. Memory lives on in another piece of yourself. Lost in the recesses of your mind only to come back to the surface by your hand. You carve a path through. Discomfort in being a subject torn between two languages–the expressive and the critical.

When I look at current snippets of your work, I think of how you capture violent shifts in relationships, which are then soothed with a balm–those tender moments of love–gentle, sweet, warm motherly love. Do those moments scab you? A slippery, gooey surface, a cracked, raw wound, or do they take on a life of their own, growing into some new form. Your work sometimes reminds me of body horror, that uncontrollable growth that will transform all, a frightening possibility laced with a euphoric release. But whose body or form does your mind ultimately surrender to? I find myself mentally fraying sometimes, in a complete and utter existential crisis…your work soothes that constant dull pain like a weaver who takes each strand and gently folds it back together. Your work is about the individual and our relationships. We both think about what a connection can mean for the individual. What effect does an assemblage of thoughts scaled, shared, and multiplied over bodies have? In what condition is that self? [It] is what always takes place through others and for others. It is not the place of egos…but of the I's who are always others. As we move forward into the future, how do we describe the entanglement of engaging in a relationship as professionals and friends?

In your drawings, there's a direct contrast between fluidity and materialism, shadows and concrete objects, memory and reality. Overall, each line seems immovable–frozen between colored barriers, yet permeable. Your marks are an ink-dark moon across the page, pockets of shade pooling into the long lines of the moon, forming craters and deep recesses touching its core. Your drawing hints at stasis, a captured moment lingering forever, and yet, can we be the architects of our mental caverns? Is the possibility of another dimension within our minds–constant cycles that have been put on repeat like that of a theme song, sung hauntingly blue. Or is it only when you draw and sculpt that you rewrite the filaments of this reality, a reckoning or reconciliation. What do our fingers know to be true? We dwell purposefully, however temporarily, connecting ourselves with a place, a person, an identity, or to whom we belong. But what if those things are now only imaginary, which we can now only rely on to call our home, a memory palace? I currently find truth only in touch–but even the brain is strong enough to stimulate one touch from another and put it on repeat.

If I were to write you a playlist for this series, I would begin with Prince's So Blue and end with a favorite song where we once shouted Fantasy by Mariah Carey. Your works carry that fun intensity of nostalgia that makes you want to slip deeply into its embrace. Raw energy and emotion that only the past can carry on its wings as it transfers between bodies. It's just a sweet, sweet fantasy, baby, your female ancestor voice whispers to me in your studio–a promise, a lullaby, and a charm for those that come after–to deal with the hauntings head–on, positing agency in how we form relationships with one another.

Our conversations always generate new curiosities between our practices. It's always such a pleasure to think about how our works dance around each other.

With much love and respect,

Accompanying text for the Smoking in the Garden exhibition at Phase Gallery, May 13 - June 10, 2023.