Artist: Saffell Gardner

Medium: Welded steel,

Year: 2017

Directions to this Sculpture


I work in steel as well as paint and whatever media my vision leads me to. Some of my sculptures emanate from totem-style drawings I’ve created over several decades. I believe that steel has a memory and when I create these pieces, they have a life. 

Sankofa is based on an African proverb which means ‘bring the best of one’s culture forward.’ My work has a historical, Afrocentric ancestral connection. With every work I produce – whether it’s a sculpture or painting – I have ideas for more. Experimenting is the key for my progression as a visionary. In my studio I work on several series of sculptures and paintings. My father told me years ago that whatever I created, part of my spirit would be in that work. It took me years to understand what he meant.” – Saffell Gardner

Saffell Gardner holds BFA and MFA degrees in painting from Wayne State University. A master painter, mixed media artist, muralist, videographer, art historian, curator, lecturer and educator, he teaches at private colleges and community colleges. Gardner has participated in Artprize and was invited to participate in “The Venice Biennale 2013,” among other public exhibitions. He co-curated “Vision in a Cornfield” for the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit in 2013. Gardner’s work is in the permanent collection of The Henry Ford Hospital, Blue Cross Blue Shield, DMC, Total Healthcare, The Federal Reserve Chicago, Renaissance High School and Southeastern High School and Detroit School of the Arts. He has exhibited throughout the United States, Jamaica, Brazil and Ghana, Africa.

Read about the meaning and etymology of the word ‘sankofa’ by clicking here.

KAC’s biennial invitational returns this summer with new guest curators, interactive art experiences, and locations all over town. To learn more and find a complete listing of related programs, click here.

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