By Tamara Robertson
May 9 - June 21, 2014
"My current body of work had its genesis in road trips to re-experience the Texas “landscape” after my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer with a prognosis of a three year life expectancy. While I use a variety of materials and processes in each work, my concept is consistent. The objects I make are placed in the canon of modernist art and guided by making visible what is often overlooked. This work is grounded in an aesthetic observation of our surroundings, revealing the beauty of commonplace objects by placing them in a context which allows them to be experienced aesthetically anew—perhaps never to be viewed mundanely ever again.
While I am not a landscape artist in the traditional sense, my work makes use of the natural and man made components found within—for example, tree branches, soils, time patinated objects, etc. As an observer of my surroundings, the work thus far has used the frame of the familiar to create a process that points to the uniqueness of forms hidden in plain sight. I have found both planned design and unexpected discoveries useful in the rearranging of familiar materials into poetic objects whose overall expressive pattern is experienced before recognizing the individual familiar building blocks that compose an unfamiliar form. Examples of this guiding concept are the wall sculptures made with mussel shells collected from dried lake beds during the Texas drought, and the reddish rust texture in my wall sculptures that often derive their eureka moment from discarded manmade objects collected for their contour’s potential and nature’s patinas. These found objects have also been referenced in my unconventional patina coatings and my invented process of cultivating large plates of rust used in my rust mosaic works." – Tamara Robertson
Making art has been essential to the life of Tamara since her earliest memories. Reflecting on the early cavewoman art of her childhood, she finds circles to be one of the basic structures that always appeared.This fascination with the circle prevails in her current work. Even if the overall form begins as a traditional rectangle, a radial balance is often part of the design, though sometimes obscurely. In her words, "Circles have their own delicate version of grace and beauty as one of nature’s recurring motifs."
Tamara's artistic journey began in her childhood in a suburb of Houston, Texas. She made art from her earliest memories. Part of her home school education included frequent trips with her mom to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, introducing her to the great masters early on. By the time Tamara was in high school, she was consistently winning art shows in the local art leagues as well as taking commissions for small drawings.
Tamara enrolled in college full-time at age 16 and trained as a graphic designer. She worked as a designer for several years until one day she realized she was only truly happy when working in the studio and was tired of life as a “Sunday Painter.” This led her to enroll in graduate school at Stephen F. Austin State University where she initially honed her abilities in the realistic rendering of subject matter. The most notable of these works was composed of representationally painted figures, fragmented and laid out into sculptural, multi-leveled blocks. This series was Tamara's way of inviting abstraction into her work and began the process of overturning the realistic/representational concepts to which she had previously adhered.
As she became more fully engaged in art study and creation, Tamara felt something was missing in her work. In trees, she found the solution. She spent her entire life living in areas overshadowed by the grandeur of immense trees. One day she “saw” her first tree branch: it had a sensuously curved shape, a beautiful deep mahogany color, and was amazingly smooth to the touch. Eureka, she had realized her first inspiration!
Since completing graduate school, Tamara continues to explore these revelations. After several years of teaching art in college, she realized she could only be happy making art full-time. Having the opportunity to work full-time on her art, Tamara has renewed her discovery process and learned her working method has a lot to do with the spellbinding effect art has on her.
Tamara thrives on the influence of her surroundings, thus many of her materials have come from sojourns across Texas and the environment surrounding her studio on the shores of Lake Nacogdoches and the encircling piney woods. She responds to this stimulation with the intuitive part of her brain to invent new techniques, acquire new skills and make each new work innovative to her in some way. Her work is fueled by a contrasting variety of concepts such as rusted and shiny, light and heavy, delicate and rugged.