Garland Farwell was born in Los Angeles but spent most of his early career in New York, working primarily in theater, designing sets, props, puppets, and masks. He worked with various playwrights, directors, companies and choreographers. These include Serious Play! Theater Ensemble, Batoto Yetu Dance Company, Full Circle Productions, and University of Massachusetts Theater Department.
During those years Garland was a recipient of numerous fellowships, residencies and awards from, among others, The Jim Henson Foundation, Franklin Furnace Foundation, Peg Saandvoordt Foundation, New York Foundation on the Arts, Diverse Forms (National Endowment for the Arts), Manhattan Cultural Council, and ArtSpace220.
Over time, after forays into web animation and art education, Farwell realized true fulfillment, as an artist, would come only through the establishment of a studio practice. The challenge would be in finding his voice in this uncharted territory, far from the broad, collaborative processes of the performance world.
As a long time fan of noted southern artists such as Mose Tolliver and Howard Finster, Garland journeyed to the Alabama Black Belt to explore Folk Art, Rural Art, and Outsider Art and to, perhaps, illuminate new paths and possibilities in his creative life.
An intended two-month stay in rural Alabama became a year. A year quickly morphed into ten. It is the people and the lifestyle that leave no doubt why he remains.
But the transition from urban contemporary artist to rural folk artist is where the journey really lies. It is impossible to totally discard the learning and experience previously gained. But by adapting the practical, humble, simple yet sophisticated approach of the artists of the rural south, Farwell’s process has become more streamlined as his work has transformed.
He has learned to use what’s around him as his primary material. No need for repeated (and expensive) runs to the supply stores. The environment offers up everything one requires to create. In Farwell’s case it is an environment of contrasting extremes; pristine nature juxtaposed with endemic blight.
Garland’s wish is to convey this dichotomy through his work and to make environmental and community concerns part of his process. Most of the artwork he produces consists of recycled, reclaimed or restored materials. Clearing out abandoned dwellings and collecting insufficiently discarded refuse, Garland Farwell hopes to redirect these raw materials into quality, dynamic work. And through this, support community development and economic growth.