Special thanks to all of you for responded to my call for statements about Flo. A selected few are posted below:
After receiving the tragic news, Ann McGarrell said she was watching an unending film of Flo's life in her mind throughout the day. One of her favorite scenes from that movie starred a 12-year-old Flo McGarrell at school in St. Louis.
A tornado was approaching, Ann McGarrell said, and the skies were darkened and ominous. She had gone to school to pick her child up and take her home. "Everyone was huddled inside," Ann McGarrell said. "Flo was outside, dancing in the rain."
Ann McGarrell, Flo’s mother
I am not in the brain space to say much but what I can say has nothing to do with Flo's inspiring artwork. Flo is my best friend. As most of you know by now I love Flo so much that I would do anything for him. If I had too I would do it all over again as my love provided me with no other options. In my heart there is nothing but pure and unbounding love for the most special person who has ever been in my life.
I miss you Flo......
Sue Frame, Best friend
Flo's beguiling eyes are what I see first in my mind. The friendship she shared with my daughter is the dearest to my heart. They experienced life's glorious moments, tragic moments and everything in between together. Flo will forever be a part of our lives.
I wanted to include that Flo was ahead of his time as a new media artist, and while people remember Flo for his video and performance work, the type of interdisciplinary technology based work he was doing was provocative, especially dealing with media and body issues. He was also in the forefront in helping students learn new technology, being the very first one to institute teaching webcam early on in the days. Also, he went around teaching senior citizens how to use the Internet and helped them get hooked up! But, regardless of what medium, media, or technology he used from food, plastic bags, to the Internet, he was a great humanitarian, which made all of his work transcend any media-specific experience. Thanks for recognizing this aspect of his work.
Mina Cheon, Professor at MICA, MICA alum, and colleague of Flo
There are some students who you recall so clearly in that they opened up as many ideas around cultural meaning as those that you brought to them. Flo was one of these students. I only worked with Flo on his final MFA thesis show but I distinctly remember the resolve, exquisite sense of craft, humanist impulse, and adventurous spirit. it was compelling work and he was a great student who became an even greater member of our global arts community.
Lisa Wainwright, Interim Dean of Faculty, Dean of Graduate Studies, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
His life moved others to think differently about the world around them. His artwork was beautiful, larger than life. He inspired me to think outside of myself, to strive beyond the bounds of the limits of me. The world will miss his infectious vision, but we are left with traces of Flo, the beauty he created and the communities he built during his electric star of a life.
Saya Woolfalk, Friend
As long as I have known Flo, she was connected to Haiti spiritually, even before setting foot upon this lands soil. She was interested in learning more and more about this mystical place and its people. It is through our common exploration of Haitian and African Diasporic spiritual practices that Flo and I became friends at SAIC. She definitely showed me what to live out loud and the boundless possibilities the world has to offer with that approach. While our contact waned once we both dispersed from SAIC, I have always considered Flo a friend, even during our disagreements.
LaShawnda Crowe Storm, Friend
I was a resident with Flo in Roswell, NM 2007 at the RAIR foundation. That year was a difficult time for Flo but it happened to be the best year of my life and Flo was a big part of that. Flo brought all of us together in way I don't think would have been possible without him. He made us interact constantly and that basically amounted to us having a lot of fun and becoming close friends. He was a true visionary. His words, ideas, and philosophy will be with with me forever as I move forward with my own artistic endeavors. He has changed my perspective on life and his spirit will live on through those he has influenced and touched. Just in talking with my fellow residents this past week and seeing all this facebook activity I can only imagine how far reaching that will be. Cheers to a one of a kind great, kind, and loving person as well as an important artist. Long live Flo!
David Bogus, Friend
Other Residents in our Crew:
Teresa Pharr, Raissa Venables, Kiker Mayer, Mark Chariker, Weronica Zaluska, Angela Carbone, Susan Dopp, Hope I am not forgetting anyone forgive me if I did!
I was a friend of Flores during our time together at MICA. As an openly gay man dealing with AIDS, Flo was one of the most accepting and supportive of my peers there. When I reconnected with Flores this summer on FaceBook, he gave me an incredible compliment, telling me that I was one of his queer role models at MICA. It was wonderful to know that I had a positive impact on his now too-short life. Of course, it was a surprise to learn that Flora had transitioned to Flores, but I was thrilled that he was able to spend the last six years of his life being who he really was. I was so proud of him! Now losing such a life force will be difficult to all of us whose lives he touched.
Tim Lonergan, Friend
Flo and I met working on the film Maggots & Men. The months and months we spent working on the film was one of the most fun and rewarding things I've ever done. I met a lot of great friends, and Flo was one of the people that I felt the closest to during that time. Everywhere that I knew he was, I wanted to be, because that's where the fun was at. I really admired his passion for life and dedication to his work, his kind and caring nature, and fun, crazy, adventurous spirit. He was one of the most unique, authentic people I've ever known, always doing what he wanted, living his dreams, and never trying to be anything but who he was. He had this way of making everyone feel welcome and appreciated and loved. You couldn't help but feel happy around Flo.
Cowen Conaghan, Friend
One of my favorite memories of Flo is when he, myself and several others spontaneously donned large tutus one evening and skipped down the street in Wicker Park, heading off to a random party. Generous and always creative, Flo welcomed everyone to join him in the celebration of life.
Rosalynn Gingerich, Friend
Flo, each day I spent with you was indeed one of the happiest days of my life. Each moment with you inspired me and filled my heart with the strength to share more, love deeper, and allow magic to occur. Like water, your love and passion and for life was an unstoppable force. Let my life henceforth be a tribute to your invincible spirit. Flo on, dear friend!
Mary Katherine Doyle, Friend
Upon meeting Flo on the Maggots and Men film set in San Francisco several years ago, it was instant camaraderie. I continue to be awed by his broad range of talents and skills. Our friend Flo is an incredible, inspirational, and healing spirit... a gorgeous, rare, sparkling gem in the Transgender Crown. Any friend of Flo is a friend of mine.
Kia Kaha, Friend
Flo was a bold artist who let his creative vision change over time to reflect how he understood the world. He was a generous, sensitive friend, and I feel so lucky I knew him.
Kelley Schei, Friend
Joyful and intrepid from earliest childhood, heedless of conventions and restraints, forgiven all by the glory of her smile and transparent soul/eyes, in the end it was he who transformed us all.
Karen Pennau Fronduti, Relative
Flo was a dynamo, and seemed indestructible. Hopefully his death will be the catalyst for many to take creative action in the world.
Méabh Fitzpatrick, Friend
I'm sure that many of my memories and feelings overlap with others'. I don't think I was unique in my love for Flo; he had so many people love him. It's incredible that he loved us all back.
Flo and I decided we were friends one day in early '94 while crossing Mt. Royal Avenue in Baltimore. I don't remember the month, but I remember that the weather was mild and the sun was on us. We linked arms, looked at each other, and said something like, "so we're friends now, huh?" "Yeah." It was such a sweet and self-conscious moment. He was one of my first and best friends at MICA, and I felt we would always be close. And we were, despite the distance and sporadic communication over the years.
The McGarrells welcomed me for a visit one summer soon after, which was a fabulous treat for me. Flo taught me how to find fairy rings of mushrooms to fry up for a snack. Mrs. McGarrell taught me how to wash dishes with a miniscule amount of water. We made a sign together for a restaurant that Flo was working at. I could go on and on. It was obvious that Flo was extraordinary because of both nature and nurture and my gratitude goes to the McGarrells for sharing Flo with me. I'll keep him in my heart always.
Joy Schendledecker, Friend
I met Flo McGarrell while working on the film, "Maggots and Men." He was the Art Director and I was one of the cinematographers. Flo had a creative energy to be reckoned with. He had that spark- a mainline to the artistic life force that very few people have. His work was inspiring, generous and visionary. He was sweet and funny and fabulous. I feel lucky to have known him.
Samara Halperin, Friend
I’m not sure if I’m sad, shaken, shocked, or simply pissed off. Flo was in a word, awesome. Flo was a superstar, in the most literal sense and it was his lack of pretension — boundless enthusiasm, generosity, and wisdom, all bundled into a quirky, lovable, almost childlike presence — that drew people to him and, like Barnaby wrote, brought out the “them” in them, the best in them.
Jeanene Swanson, Friend