Moments of Thaw

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It's hard to know where to begin describing the work Tasha Lewis has created for her upcoming show, Moments of Thaw.  With such an unusual combination of processes and construction, one is struck, initially, by the sheer novelty of the work in which animals appear to be moving through solid materials like glass and gallery walls.  But then, on closer examination, the craftsmanship involved in the construction of each piece is equally intriguing and the results are breathtaking.

Lewis describes her work as "photographic sculpture."  Applying a historic photographic process called cyanotype to fabric, Lewis then painstakingly sews the printed fabric onto paper sculptures in natural forms (animals, plants, insects).  Next, using powerful magnets, she is able to suspend these forms in and through glass vessels, plexiglass panels and more.  Bell jars (made by friend and glassblower, Mike Davis) one would expect to hold a specimen, become something they appear to be traveling through, suspended partially inside, partially out.  She describes the work as relating to taxidermy, but where taxidermied animals hang on a wall, Lewis's creatures jump through them.

Lewis started sculpting in her final year at Swarthmore College, where she majored in Art and English Literature.  She is taking a year to produce a new body of work before entering grad school for an MFA in sculpture.  She would eventually like to teach.

Having worked with cyanotype for six years, her recent work has really pushed the limits of how this process can be applied, particularly with fabric.  When sewn to the flexible and light weight paper sculptures she creates, they become the ideal forms to use with the magnets that simultaneously suspend them and give them a sense of movement.

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Some of the work in this show has been seen around town as a pop up public art installation.  "The Swarm" (shown above) consists of 1,000 cyanotype butterflies that Lewis can install in 20 minutes time.  She calls these a "playful invasion of public space."  The work has received a lot of attention and press coverage both locally and nationally.

See her show, Moments of Thaw this Friday, January 4 from 6 to 9pm at Animal House, our First Friday opening at the Harrison Center!

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