In my most recent body of work, I re-possesses the architectural elements of column, altar and arch to frame and elevate symbols tied to the creative labors of women with thread. The spinning wheel, figure with distaff and hand-spindle, and tatted lace have all become revered icons of an archaic art. They are both as familiar and as unfamiliar to me as they will be to most viewers. The rediscovery of, and reflection on, these technologies of textile are staged through the use of digital fabrication processes. CNC plasma cut steel, 3D printed figurines, digital embroideries, and laser-cut plexiglass are interwoven with hand-dyed and stitched cotton, hand-modeled and cast clay and latex, hand-buffed steel and carved foam. The traces of my fingers and body are everywhere as I attempt to physicalize my relationship with small things, like family heirlooms of lace, and huge things, like the systemic devaluation of female-gendered work. This collection is a meditation on the sacred through-line that connects looms to computers or cross-stitches with pixels. It presents the digital in the light of its etymological origin: of, or relating to the han
Speaking more broadly, my practice spans a range of material interests and reflects my study of visual culture and its economic, social, and philosophical implications on the concept of “women’s work.” These interests position the objects born from my practice to be interrogators of ideals of beauty, the construction of gender-roles, and the devaluation of female-gendered labor. In response, I reprise neoclassical tropes: decorative columns, bathers, devotional paintings, and stretch upon their frameworks novel skins vibrating with the now. With my hands, textile takes many forms: it is cloth, skin, exposed warp and weft, and metaphorical matrix.
3D scans bring specificity into the works, and laser-cut, 3D printed or CNC plasma cut objects show traces of the digital space. I mine the histories and philosophies of textiles and present them as essential antecedents to contemporary computer aided design. My material interests are further explored through mold-making and casting techniques where the same form is iterated in bronze, porcelain, concrete, wood, acrylic, embroidery, or latex. In my life as an artist I have touched on even more media, including graphic design, web design, photography (digital, analog and historic processes), printmaking, book arts and ceramics. While often tied to object-making, I have also worked on a large-scale collaborative public art project, Swarm the World, and an intensive book publication based in visualizing the Modernist text of Ulysses, by James Joyce.
Tasha Lewis’s wide-ranging sculptural practice employs the body of the artist as a starting point for investigations into the interconnected histories of textile and technology, and the ways in which history’s multiple returns to the female form both empower and undercut her own influence in systems of power.
Her debut solo museum exhibition, Flood Lines, at the Parthenon Museum in Nashville, TN was on view from January through July of 2020. The body of work was profiled by the National Endowment for the Arts magazine as well as the Tri-Star Art’s Online video series, Liminal Space. The ombré dyed textile skins and bead encrusted bodies had previously been explored in her Ebb Tide and Full Fathom Five exhibitions at the Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens and the Sarasota Art Center. A wide range of Lewis’s work has been shown across the United States in group shows at the Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Spartanburg Art Museum, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the Sotheby’s Institute.
Lewis holds a Master of Fine Art from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and a Bachelors of Arts from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania. Her academic study has consistently woven literature, theory and art history with her materially expansive visual art practice. She has been supported by professional development programs including The Artist-in-the-Marketplace at the Bronx Museum of Art in 2014 and Creative Capital, New Jersey in 2018. She was a resident artist at Galley Aferro in Newark, NJ between 2013 and 2019.
She lives and works in Northern New Jersey.