Artist Profile: Tasha Lewis
My name is Tasha Lewis and I am a young photographic sculptor from Indianapolis, Indiana. I graduated from Swarthmore College in the spring of 2012 with a dual degree in English Literature and Studio Arts. I recently moved to New York City and will begin a residency at the Aferro Gallery in Newark, NJ, at the end of August.
The photographic process that I use is called the cyanotype process, and I am drawn to it both because of its history and because of its flexibility. My current body of work is drawn from an investigation into the cultural/scientific/historical context in which the cyanotype was born. Popularized by scientists, and botanists in particular, the cyanotype is intrinsically tied into the scientific recording boom of the late 19th and early 20th century. These are the times of the curiosity cabinet, the prints of Anna Atkins and a rush of explorers/scientists to colonial lands only to bring back specimens from foreign ecosystems. The cyanotype is a process of documenting. The resultant image— which is the basic fodder for all of my work— is a kind of scientific stand-in for the actual object in question. It is the trace of the original. In this way, like cyanotype’s use for building blue prints in more recent centuries, my work is formed as the re-presentation of something real; it is somehow not quite the object itself. Thus my faux-taxidermied specimens are made up of photographs of real antelopes, gazelles, impalas, foxes, fishes, snakes etc and where you see a photograph of nostrils or the depth of the inner ear, you actually see into these flat surfaces and imagine they have the depth of a real animal.
My work is very interested in this tension between the qualities of the surface—where everything is hand sewn with a needle and thread— and the illusory power of the photographic base—where the images is created digitally and then printed in the sun.