Disparate remnants came together to create “Rover.” Before this, he was physically dispersed and spiritually at large. Tau Lewis made him over several months of scavenging household fabrics like clothing, curtains, and blankets, and sewing them together with meditative precision. His cheeks, nose, lips, and eyes speak to multiple material and conceptual relationships. He is a conduit between Lewis and her predecessors.
In this exhibition of just one work, Lewis contemplates the monumentality of dialogue with forebearers, and what it means to give form to this exchange. The artist becomes a facilitator of the dynamic frequencies between temporal and spatial realms through listening, writing, gathering and making. The process of collecting environmental refuse and creating images of spiritual entities is meant to catalyze change, and to create bridges to the ancestral world; the term transformation is enacted.
Through her practice, Lewis is interested in continuing diasporic traditions of resourceful creativity. Her process of gathering and recycling is a praxis: a transformative act that engages in care for the environment and honoring relationships with the past. The artist describes her textile works as conceptual information systems, or maps without borders that include the celestial and ancestral worlds. The material DNA that make up these works bring multiple unknown histories into physical connection, and ground Lewis’ objects in our world through their repurposed but recognizable component parts. “Rover” is Lewis’ first work that combines her figurative and quilt work into one portrait. The title of the exhibition is borrowed from a poem that Lewis wrote while making him:
A conductor’s job is the bringing together of frequencies
A hard job that can have you feeling weighed down in this place
Black folks are like spirit conductors
on these earthly territories
It feels like I’ve been floating away
lifetimes and lifetimes
but I’m not a by gone!
and I’m countin’ on you to ground me again.
Text by Magdalyn Asimakis
Excerpt of poem by Tau Lewis
Tau Lewis (b. 1993, Toronto, Canada) has had recent exhibitions at the New Museum, New York; MoMA PS1, New York; Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, Georgia; Chapter NY; Frieze New York (with COOPER COLE); Jeffrey Stark, New York; The Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen's University, Ontario; Shoot the Lobster, New York; and the Art Gallery of York University, Toronto, Canada. Forthcoming exhibitions include solo exhibitions at the Hepworth Wakefield Museum, Yorkshire, UK; Kenderdine Art Gallery, University of Saskatchewan, Canada; and Oakville Galleries, Oakville, Canada; and a two-person show at COOPER COLE, Toronto.