Tau Lewis: Shreds of Memory | Art21 “New York Close Up”

Published on March 17, 2023

Captions provided by CCTubes – Captioning the Internet! In the quiet of her Brooklyn studio, artist Tau Lewis and her team bring an uncommon attentiveness and care to the found fabrics that make up her figurative sculptures. “I have a very deep interior private life,” she tells us, “I’ve been that way since I was a child. I really struggled with communicating and getting my ideas out. Sculpture has been really important to that interior self.” Ornate assemblages of salvaged textiles, the works currently in progress are inspired by ceremonial Yoruba masks that are traditionally used in the process of communicating with a spirit or ancestor. This documentary short, shot on 16-millimeter film, evocatively captures the creation of a suite of large-scale masks that radiate their own personalities and desires.

Patching together the many fabrics collected in her studio, Lewis embraces the histories embedded in the materials she works with. “A lot of black creation is an upcycling” she says, “regardless of a lack thereof, regardless of an access to. Taking things as they are and letting them shine”. For the artist, the time spent in the studio touching and handling the material is integral to the work, an act of departure into her own interior world. She treats her sculptures as beings in their own right, unrecognized ancestors whose allegorical meaning or talismanic power must be teased out through a hands-on process of recognition. “I’ve heard you,” she offers to the work, “and these are the symbols I’ve made in response to you, and you are being seen.”

Learn more about the artist at: https://art21.org/taulewis

CREDITS | “New York Close Up” Series Producer: Nick Ravich. Director & Producer: Crystal Kayiza. Editor: Lorena Alvarado, Crystal Kayiza. Cinematography: Pierce Robinson. Assistant Camera: Colin Morris III. Sound: Benjamin Eckersley. Associate Producer: Andrea Chung. Assistant Curator: Jurrell Lewis. Color Correction: Natacha Ikoli. Sound Design & Mix: Collin Blendell. Design & Graphics: Chips. Music: frey_s. Artwork & Archival Media Courtesy: Bed Stuy Art Residency, Tau Lewis. Thanks: 52 Walker, CPT Rental Inc., Cate Higgins, Zoe Hochman, Avia Hurley, Lily Pell, Erin Pinover, Isabel Powis, Afiya Yearwood. © Art21, Inc. 2023. All rights reserved.

“New York Close Up” is supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Arts; and, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; Dawn and Chris Fleischner; and by individual contributors.

Translated subtitles are generously contributed by our volunteer translation community. Visit our translation team at Amara for the full list of contributors: https://amara.org/videos/EMywRPuSf6qq/info/tau-lewis-shreds-of-memory-art21-new-york-close-up/?team=art21

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