Image caption: Mariah Garnett, The Pow’r of Life is Love, 2021. Multi-channel video installation, 4k video with sound, 13:00 minutes. Courtesy the artist and Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles. Installation view at Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, 2022. Photo by Sean Fleming.

Past Exhibition

Mariah Garnett: Dreamed This Gateway

June 10, 2022 - August 28, 2022
Nina and Michael Zilkha Gallery


Who speaks and who is silenced? What histories or facets of a culture do we privilege and why? How do we acknowledge our history while also rewriting, repairing, and moving beyond our past trauma? Los Angeles-based artist and filmmaker Mariah Garnett (b. 1980) asks these questions and others in the first U.S. solo museum presentation of her work, Mariah Garnett: Dreamed This Gateway. The exhibition features new and recent operatic videos, including a multi-channel installation commissioned by CAMH. Working in collaboration with experimental vocalist Holland Andrews, Cairo-based documentary playwright Raphaël Khouri, and professional opera singers Christopher Paul Craig and Breanna Sinclairé, Garnett has created a new body of work inspired by an archive of materials related to the enigmatic and remarkable life and artistic output of her great-great-aunt, Ruth Lynda Deyo (1884–1960).

A spiritualist, synesthete, and composer, Deyo moved to Cairo in 1924, where she began to have visions transmitted by spirits. Deyo meticulously transcribed her visions and communications, as well as her political, social, and financial anxieties, in a series of diaries, eventually composing an opera based on the lives of Egyptian pharaohs Akhenaten and Tutankhamen. These documents, as well as conversations between Garnett and her Cairo-based collaborators, provide a point of departure for a new body of work exploring unexpected and poignant connections between spirituality, trauma, and art making through the artist’s queer lens. Reckoning with her family’s complicity in extractive systems of colonial oppression and cultural appropriation, specifically Deyo’s fetishization of Ancient Egyptian culture, Garnett and her collaborators weave together a rich and fantastical vision of individual and collective trauma and transcendence within the context of our contemporary political and ideological landscape.


Mariah Garnett: Dreamed This Gateway is organized by Rebecca Matalon, Curator, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston.


Contemporary Arts Museum of Houston is funded in part by the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.

Extended Media



Exhibition labels are available in English and Spanish.