Destiny Palmer presents “To Bare Witness” at Trustman Art Gallery – The Simmons Voice


“I think there is a very interesting documented history of black people in America, so I’m very excited to work with this imagery and use it as truth,” Palmer said.

Olivia Ray, Arts and Entertainment Editor-in-Chief

Content Disclaimer: The works of Destiny Palmer and this article include content that may disturb some viewers. [Mentions of lynching, slavery, bodies.]

Painter and multimedia artist Destiny Palmer presented her exhibition “To Bare Witness” at the Simmons University Trustman Art Gallery on December 2.

“To Bare Witness” is made up of selected works from Palmer’s larger body of work titled “Labored Bodies”.

Palmer said she started working on “To Bare Witness” in 2019, as she was going through a period of change in her life. Palmer was in the process of transitioning from an assistant professor position at his alma mater MassArt to a position of art professor at Thayer Academy College in Braintree, Massachusetts.

“One of the things I had encountered was that I really wanted to figure out how to do what I was feeling,” Palmer said.

According to Palmer, his work focuses on the intersections of painting, the use of color, and history, and explores “what it means.[s] to use your identity to somehow filter in your work.

After graduating from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in 2017, Palmer began making abstract paintings based on photographs of lynchings, as a way “to talk about bodies and talk about this story without traumatizing. again”.

One of these paintings, titled “A Body Hanging Here” (2019) is exhibited in “To Bare Witness”.

Although Palmer felt this work was central to her growth as an artist, she said it was extremely difficult to deal with murdered bodies so intimately.

“It takes a long time to look at these images and deal with this story,” Palmer said.

Palmer then began to experiment with black and blue, evoking a bruise, and the “mental place of being bruised.”

According to Palmer, she again felt like this hard work was important, but not a job she could continue to do without putting a strain on her own mental well-being.

“I felt like I was on to something, but I couldn’t stay here,” Palmer said.

After his exploration of the black and blue bruise, Palmer examined historical documents, including documentation of the laws surrounding slave ships.

Palmer explained that according to these documents, the amount of space allocated to each enslaved person was regulated and extremely small. To illustrate this, Palmer included works of art that exactly match the dimensions given to each enslaved person in “To Bare Witness.”

“I think there is a very interesting documented history of black people in America, so I’m very excited to work with this imagery and use it as truth,” Palmer said.

The exhibition also includes works focused on reconstructed gloves. According to Palmer, these gloves represent the need for manual labor that spurred slavery, allowing these pieces to relate to his themes of personal identity and dealing with traumatic history.

“These bigger pieces, which are kind of where I am now, really help me think about how I can continue to use fabric as a backing for the story,” Palmer said.

As a cohesive exhibit, “To Bare Witness” is a testament to Palmer’s experience as a person of color and the complexity that comes with unboxing generational trauma.

“To Bare Witness” will be on display in the Trustman Gallery until December 17th.


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