We are excited to announce our newest Guest Artist, Tara Blackwell. Tara is a mixed media pop artist leveraging the tension between fun and social commentary in her artwork.
Continue reading to find out more about Tara and her journey.
I am a mixed media pop artist living and working in Connecticut. In my work, I play with bold colors, layers, and texture, often incorporating nostalgic pop culture to explore contemporary social issues. At a glance, my paintings depict a childlike innocence, but there is usually underlying social commentary. While I have fun exploring imagery from my childhood, at the same time, I am delving into insecurities that go way back to being an awkward girl in middle school – that “picked last in gym class” feeling. My “Saturday Morning” series is all about resiliency and perseverance. Remember digging in the cereal box as a kid to find that prize? These little characters are symbolically shown in positions of independence, strength, and success. The process of creating this work has personally helped me to conjure up my own inner strength and to envision my “prize” within my reach.
In the Summer of 2020, like many of us, my daughter (Lila) and I spent a lot of time together indoors due to the pandemic. Lila was 12 and in her first year of middle school at a new school and navigating the typical challenges that I remember all too well from that age. But the isolation and fear of getting sick was an unexpected turn. Then—we saw the horrific murder of George Floyd; Another brutal killing (at the hands of the police) of a human being who looks like us. Black Lives Matter protests erupted stronger and louder than ever and living downtown in a major city, we could just step outside and be part of the movement. Together, Lila and I began to pour our feelings into our art.
I was still working on my Saturday Morning series when Lila suggested the use of Powerpuff Girls, a cartoon linked to her generation, not mine. I had been focusing on my own childhood memories in this work, but when I started exploring Lila’s suggested reference, my focus shifted to her experience at that moment. As a mother, I not only thought about how I could protect her but how could I help her to discover her own voice and inner strength. My Saturday Morning series shifted direction and I tapped into my fierceness as a mother– as a Black mother of a Black girl. The Powerpuff Girl painting became the piece titled “Justice Now.” I consider that piece to be the beginning of a powerful collaboration between me and Lila.
If you are interested in applying for a guest residency here at MoM, please go to our website HERE: https://bit.ly/3uRgugm to find out more. BE SURE TO HURRY! Spots have been filling FAST! We hope that future tours of the space will be available soon, but they are by appointment only in Artist Enclave Historic Kenwood: “where art lives.”