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Artistic Success Through Balancing Art Making and Organization: Adrienne Elise Tarver

Updated: Jan 22, 2021

Adrienne Elise Tarver is an artist who makes hard work look easy. From her expansive studio practice, to her position as the Associate Chair of Fine Arts at Savannah College of Art and Design’s Atlanta Campus, Adrienne is able to gracefully accomplish making insightful, challenging work while also organizing a great spreadsheet. In this episode, we talk about how she balances art making and organization to achieve success.

With a practice that spans painting, sculpture, installation, photography, and video, Tarver’s work addresses the complexity and invisibility of black female identity in the Western landscape, from the history within domestic spaces to the fantasy of the tropical seductress.

“I often use the tropics as a starting point to look at the complexity of origin stories and histories of displacement. Using this familiar imagery, I confront artists like Paul Gauguin and Henri Rousseau and their imaginations of the tropics, considering the problematic perspective from which they were creating, and challenging the ideas they have perpetuated.

Recent work seeks to go beyond the origin story and investigate the future. Pulling from nearly forgotten histories and exploiting the inability to create a true or accurate representation of an ancestral home, I collect imagery and ideas that resonate internally.

Throughout my practice, I wonder: if mythologies from an imperialistic past can so thoroughly permeate our present identities, can we re-configure the narrative to create new realities? If our current struggles are indeed a sign of progress, can we look forward and claim our space for a better reality in the future?” -Adrienne Tarver

She has exhibited nationally and abroad, including museum shows at the Bronx Museum of the Arts and Children’s Museum of Manhattan, as well as solo exhibitions at Ochi Projects in Los Angeles; Wave Hill in the Bronx, NY; Victori+Mo in New York; BRIC Project Room in Brooklyn; and A-M Gallery in Sydney, Australia. She has been commissioned for an upcoming New York MTA project, received the inaugural artist commission prize for Art Aspen in 2019 and was selected by ArtNet as one of “14 Emerging Female Artists to watch in 2017.” She has been featured in online and print publications including the New York Times, Brooklyn Magazine, ArtNet, Blouin Art Info, Whitewall Magazine, Hyperallergic, Ingenue Magazine, among others.

She is currently the Associate Chair of Fine Arts at Savannah College of Art and Design’s Atlanta Campus (SCAD Atlanta). She received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and BFA from Boston University.


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NYC Crit Club is accepting applications for Spring 2021 semester starting Dec 27, 2020. Now in its fourth year, NYC Crit Club is offering 9 new courses this Spring via zoom with 8 new faculty and 30 guest speakers and critics from around the country.


-Experimenting with every aspect of the art world

-Job tips for artists-Framing jobs to get started with when you move someplace new

-How admin experience can help you in your career

-Relocating with the arts and while being an artist

- Her Nonprofit work teaching at Harlem School for the Arts-NYC

- Working across media

- How to loosen up in the studio with watercolors

-Being ok with uncertainty

- Ignore the trends and go with what interests you.


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