Isabelle Garbani: The Dichotomy of American Culture

Art Scene

Isabelle Garbani: The Dichotomy of American Culture

“American culture” is a strange and hazy idea. The United States and specifically New York City are such melting pots for people from all walks of life, where human beings of different colors and creeds gather together to bring their unique experiences into the world. This creates a strange dichotomy in our country: Our culture is built from the cultures of those who migrated here—so we are both a nation of no inherent culture and a nation of many. It’s quite a paradox, and no one represents that paradoxical view of our country quite like Brooklyn artist Isabelle Garbani.

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Isabelle Garbani is a French-born artist who, from a young age, felt a lot of dread about the expectations set for her by her family and French culture; longing to pursue art while living in a society that expected her to be satisfied with life as a wife and mother. Many things changed when her and her family immigrated to Boston from Northern France in 1984, where she learned that American culture favored and rewarded following your passions and separating yourself as an individual. Isabelle worked as a commercial artist in theatre and the Videogames industry from the early ‘90s until the early 2000’s, though she claims that she considers her art career to have “officially began” when she graduated from graduate school in the fine arts in 2004. Isabelle has lived in Bay Ridge since 2005, and has been a practicing artist ever since.

Isabelle Garbani home

Isabelle’s work consists of dozens of visually striking indoor and outdoor installations, where she uses her materials to adorn trees, other natural formations and create huge pieces representing her political views. Strangely enough, her material of choice? Recycled plastic bags. Here’s what Isabelle has said about the medium through which she does her work, taken from the artist statement on her website:

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“My choice of materials reflects this paradoxical view that I have of American culture. Plastic is indispensable and it is completely unnecessary; it is vital to our modern lives and it is harmful to our environment; it is a true technological achievement and a sign of our failure.”


Isabelle’s work takes the sensation of being an outsider, someone looking into a foreign and strange ideology, and makes it into a visually engaging and tactile experience. Her relationship to a country that is both her home and not her home is realized in bright and beautiful patterns that take the troubling and permanent life of plastic and weave it into the rich beauty of the world around it. In a sense, Isabelle’s work is the very definition of art: a glimpse into the unique point of view of one individual.

You can find Isabelle’s portfolio, artist statement and more at