Gabrielle Banks

Gabrielle Banks

Gabrielle Banks was born in Nassau, Bahamas. She received her BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design with a completed semester in the Independent Studio Program at Slade School of Fine Art in London, England.

Banks has exhibited in the National Art Gallery of the Bahamas, including her solo show "The Mark of a Woman" and most recently, the NE10 Exhibition "MERCY." She has contributed work to the first all-female auction at Sotheby's Auction House, "By Women, For Tomorrow's Women."

Banks has completed fellowships at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, and Wassaic Project in Wassaic, New York. In addition to her painting practice, Banks served as the galleries assistant at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University until 2022. Banks now works as the galleries assistant for the nonprofit arts organization, AS220 in Providence, Rhode Island

Artist Statement

This body of work is deeply influenced by the power dynamics that exist within male-dominated spaces and visualizes the various ways Black women are often marginalized and excluded from positions of power. There is an overall exploration of trauma that occurs within the workplace, with a specific focus on museums and art institutions, and the general consumption of Black female artists within contemporary art.

The use of mythology and classical painting has been crucial in the development of these paintings and has served as the blueprint for their production. Mythology has been morphed into a language to explore hierarchies and power dynamics that can exist within artist-centered spaces and institutions, as Black women are often required to navigate these complex dynamics while confronting the demands of race and gender. Therefore, when discussing these institutions, it is relevant to consider the canon of art history; to confront the framework that establishes these organizations and their racialized curatorial visions. Known lore and mythological tales such as Persephone and Hades, Ixion and Zeus, including mythological creatures such as the minotaur, centaur, and nymphs/sirens, are utilized to discuss these hierarchies and the violence of gender.

These classical and mythological icons ultimately serve as a vehicle to highlight themes of workplace burnout (illustrated as the "workhorse"), a general exotification and dehumanization of the Black female form, and unspoken expectations of Black labor. Overall, this work hopes to reclaim these oppressive spaces through a means of asserting a voice of transparency to further validate the described experiences.