Knoxville, TN | Sculpture
After completing a dual degree in Literature and Studio Art at Swarthmore College, Tasha Lewis moved to New York City in 2013 to pursue a career in sculpture. A year later, she was selected for the Artist-in-the-Marketplace program at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. In the fall of 2015, she was a resident artist in the StudioWorks program at The Tides Institute and Museum in Eastport, Maine. During that residency, she created 644 works on paper in 18 different styles — each in response to a single page of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. Her subsequent self-publication of that project, entitled Illustrating Joyce’s Ulysses in Eight Weeks, was collected by universities across the United States and by the Joyce Foundation in Zurich, Switzerland.
In summer 2016, Lewis was commissioned by the Breckenridge International Festival of Art to bring 1,000 magnetic butterflies to Colorado. This commission was an extension of her project, Swarm the World, which she coordinated between 2014 and 2018. This global street art project linked 180 collaborators in 45 different countries who each installed and photographed hundreds of magnetic cyanotype butterflies on metal objects in their communities. In 2018, Lewis was awarded an artist fellowship at the C-Scape Dune Shack in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Tasha Lewis’s work has been shown across the United States including recent group shows at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Spartanburg Art Museum, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the Sotheby’s Institute, and a solo show at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Today, she lives and works in Knoxville where she is an MFA candidate in sculpture at the University of Tennessee.
My sculptures are contemporary distortions of Classical Greek artifacts that I enact in feminist narratives with life-sized figures. No civilization, and thus no symbols of civilization, can exist as objects separate from their complex histories. As a maker, I operate within an interpretive model of suspicion in which I question my attraction to artifacts deeply tied to the male-dominated power structures I am seeking to disrupt. I am interested in working through their problematic associations to truly flush out a new kind of sculptural iconography for myself. With the vessels (Amphora, Loutrophoros, Alabastron and Lekythos), I am interested in both their literal associations with water, bathing, ceremonial cleansing and daily rituals of grooming, but also to their anthropomorphic qualities.
As an artist I am captivated by the act of world-building. I want to make a space where figures based on my body can exist with the Classical Greek vessel forms, and with a kind of dreamscape architecture of arches, founts and colonnades defined by color gradients. Due to my interested in literature, I make my work rich in symbols, both personal and cultural. The incrustations of beads, braids, netting, ombré, macrame coral and body hair, are some of the many elements I weave into this world. I strive for the work to showcase these labors without feeling overburdened by them.