Gary Simmons (American, b.1964) uses American pop culture stereotypes and icons to create sculptures, paintings, and installations. His subject matter is often related to class and race. One of his most well-known works is Home and Away, which is installed at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. He is also well-known for his erasure drawings, a technique which involves drawing with white chalk on slate-painted walls and then smudging the drawing with one’s hands to a ghostly image. Simmons has a graduate degree from CalArts.
The artist runs a studio in Manhattan in a closed vocational school. His first erasure drawings were completed on the old roller chalkboards that were left behind. Appropriately, the subjects of these drawings were education and the misconceptions regarding class and racial identity. He used this medium frequently during the 1990s. He also painted walls with chalkboard paint and used those as a canvas as well. In Wall of Eyes, Simmons explores the use of black caricature by adding white cartoon eyes of different sizes onto the black surface. His installation Split Personality is a series of black-on-black drawings using Simmons' semi-erase method, and is based on horror films of the 1970s.
Simmons is also a sculptor. His earlier works included extremely powerful symbols of oppression using items from the Ku Klux Klan such as signs, nooses, and hoods. Simmons has exhibited both domestically and internationally in galleries such as the Simon Lee Gallery in London, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., Anthony Meier Fine Arts in San Francisco, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Metro Pictures Gallery in New York, Margo Leavin Gallery in Los Angeles, Museum Villa Stuck in Munich, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. His work is also included in private collections in Portland, OR, St. Louis, MO, and New York, NY. Simmons is represented by Metro Pictures Gallery in New York and Simon Lee Gallery in London. The artist lives and works in New York.