"My work speaks to the human urge for mark leaving."

Biography

A native South Carolinian, Fran Gardner lives in Heath Springs. She earned her BFA from Columbia College (1982) and later, her MFA from Vermont College of Norwich University (1993). She is professor emerita of art and art history at the University of South Carolina Lancaster where she taught studio courses and art history for 32 years. Gardner has gained attention in mixed media collage. She paints and draws with traditional materials, but also with the sewing machine, layering her work with rich texture, color and mark-making. In addition to creating and exhibiting her work, she writes critical essays about art, leads retreats, teaches workshops, and judges and curates exhibitions. Her work has been exhibited regionally and nationally and published in Fiberarts and  Needle Arts magazines and in the books Crafting Personal Shrines, by Carol Owen, The Art of Textiles, by Mary Schoeser and Scanning the Hypnoglyph: Sleep in Modernist and Postmodern Representation, by Nathaniel Wallace.

Gardner has won a variety of awards in competitive exhibits both statewide and nationally. In addition she has exhibited at numerous art centers and museums across the US. In 2019 she was inducted into the National Association of Women Artists in New York. A career highlight was the invitation to be a United States National Park Artist-In-Residence at Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico in 2012.

Artist Statement

Petroglyphs, architecture, graffiti – examples of our collective human urge to leave an imprint. These relics are historical records with a tenacious existence. Think the caves of Lascaux, the pyramids, and the surfaces of train cars. Often using references to language systems and codes, my work speaks to the human urge for mark leaving, referring to that enduring historical record while simultaneously becoming a part of it. The materials, not rock, brick, or steel, but rather fabric, thread, and paint translate into an intimate and ephemeral account of my perception of our shared history, present and future.

Selected exhibitions & installations

Curriculum Vitae

Selected solo, invitational group, & juried exhibitions

132nd Annual Members Exhibition

National Association of Women Artists • One Art Space • New York, 2021

Layering: Collage and Mixed Media

National Association of Women Artists • Online, 2021

Small Chapters (First Place Award)

National Association of Women Artists, SC Chapter • Coastal Discovery Museum • Hilton Head, SC, 2020

Voice Lessons

Burroughs Chapin Museum • Myrtle Beach, SC, 2020 • Satellite Gallery • Asheville, NC, 2019

Inspirational Journeys

Sponsored by the National Association of Women Artists, SC Chapter • Vendue Art Hotel • Charleston, SC, 2020

Speaking of Fibers: Stories of Importance (Featured Guest Artist)

Missouri Fibers Artists • Maryville University • St. Louis, MO, 2019

More Than the Sum of Her Parts

Women's Rights Empowerment Network • Columbia Museum of Art • South Carolina, 2019

New Members Exhibit

National Association of Women Artists • NAWA Gallery • New York, 2019

Artfields, Contemporary Southern Art

Lake City, SC, 2019, 2015

Wordplay

Womanmade Gallery • Chicago, IL, 2018

Feminine Magic and Mystery

Watson MacRae Gallery • Sanibel Island, FL, 2018

Excellence in Fibers 2017

Fiber Artists Network and Magazine • Online, 2017

Tell Me a Story

Foundry Art Centre • Saint Charles, MO, 2017

Context

Foundry Art Centre • Saint Charles, MO, 2015

Artifact Timeline

With USCL Students • Native American Studies Center • University of South Carolina Lancaster, 2013

Witness to Creativity

On-Site Installation of "Habitat: The Gulf Oil Spill" • Florida Museum of Women Artists • Deland, FL, 2010

Selected fellowships, grants, honors & awards

Selected fellowships, grants, honors & awards

President, National Association of Women Artists

South Carolina Chapter • 2021-Present

Recipient, Denise R. Shaw Excellence in Scholarship Award

USC Palmetto College • 2020

Juried Member, National Association of Women Artists

2019

Instructor, Visual Art as a Storytelling Device

Asemic Writing Workshop • Saint Louis, MO, 2019

Judge, Speaking of Fibers: Stories of Importance

Missouri Fibers Artists • Maryville University • Saint Louis, MO, 2019

Judge, 29th Annual All Florida Juried Exhibition

Fort Myers, FL, 2015

Judge, Big Arts

Sanibel Island, FL, 2015

Judge, Winner's Circle Southwest Florida Artists' Guild

Punta Gorda, FL, 2015

Artist-in-Residence and Commission

Chaco Culture National Historical Park • Department of the Interior • 2012

Recipient, The Carol Jones Carlisle Award for Research in Women's Studies

University of South Carolina • 2002

Critical Acclaim

"Her sensuous work always begins with stitching...

…which draws the viewer almost unaware into a universe submerged by time, memory and place. A sea of petroglyphs, ancient text, celestial calendars, medieval tarot cards, maps, numbers, even compute motherboards, all of which speak to a universal, timeless language, encases Gardner’s hand-drawn human form like a soft carapace."

Rhonda Sonnenberg Fiberarts Magazine
Prophet
Work

Explore Fran's latest body of work on Instagram.