Deep Layers at Xaviera Simmons' Studio

All pictures by Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck from Ann Street Studio

All pictures by Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck from Ann Street Studio

Bold, highly-spirited and optimistic. Those are the first words that come to my mind when I think of Xaviera Simmons.  A super accomplished a multi-faceted artist, Xaviera’s body of work spans photography, performance, video, sound, sculpture and installation. And she’s equally good in all of them.  While she lives in Manhattan, Xaviera’s studio is a cozy apartment in Brooklyn where she keeps some of her photography pieces, a variety of cameras, props, fabrics and accessories that help her transform into the characters that she turns herself into and that she photographs for her moving and transporting work. 

After spending two years on a walking pilgrimage retracing the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade with Buddhist Monks, Xaviera returned to New York and received her BFA from Bard College.  Undoubtedly, that very deep experience informs her practice and it is reflected in her art: arid landscapes that serve as stunning backdrops for photography pieces, colorful fabrics and garments, soulful objects and a sense of having seen the world from a very profound perspective are present in everything that Xaviera does. 

I really loved spending time in Xaviera’s studio and I know that it was a bit beyond her comfort zone to have me opening every drawer and checking every dress and piece of fabric that she had neatly organized in her studio.  But I also know that she is generous and lighthearted and because of that, she let me get away with it. She has a collection of vinyl records, hundreds of books, National Geography magazines and I feel that everything comes together to form a  very confident portrait of who Xaviera is.  

Simmons has exhibited nationally and internationally -- major exhibitions and performances include The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1, Nouveau Museum National de Monaco, The Studio Museum In Harlem, The Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, The Public Art Fund, and The Sculpture Center among many others. 

2013 in particular has been a prolific year for Xaviera filled with extraordinary projects including performances and shows such as "Artists Experiment" with The Museum Of Modern Art, "Radical Presence" at The Contemporary Arts Museum In Houston, "Rehearsals" at The Savannah College Of Art and Design and "Untitled" at The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum. Her newest body of work will be exhibited at David Castillo Gallery in Miami during Art Basel starting next week.