Being a child of the 90s with a post-millennial “Generation Z” sister, I’ve often mislabeled her generation as lazy, entitled and overindulgent. While it may be true that knowledge has increasingly become readily available through podcasts, YouTube channels and the internet as a whole, combing through the information overload and honing the ability to not only curate but create something new is a talent and skill I cannot overlook, nor discredit.
This is the first reason why Tau Lewis is someone to watch right now.
I assumed she had attended an art school for years, and even then I was unable to comprehend how, at 22, she had been able to produce such unique, meticulous, and moving work. Later, having found out that she was entirely self-taught, I was overcome by a sense of pride in her self-motivation. The only thing driving Tau Lewis is Tau Lewis, and her beliefs.
This is my second reason why Tau Lewis is someone to watch right now.
On October 13th, exhausted after a long day at work, I dragged myself to the opening of her first solo exhibit, “foraged, ain’t free”, and man, would I be kicking myself if I hadn’t made it out. I first got wind of the event through my friends at The Pendulum Project, a collective that strives to highlight and draw attention to emerging artists around Toronto. Knowing their eye for emerging artistic talent, I made my way over to check out Tau (for what I thought was the first time.)
Immediately, my gaze was swept up by a collection of sporadically placed monochromatic cacti and I was hit with deja-vu as I realized I had, in fact, caught Tau’s work once before at Nice Pile of Bricks and had been equally as taken by her work then. Now, I had context for the cacti I had swooned over for so long. As the meaning began to unravel before me, my appreciation blossomed with it. Muted colors, organic matter, pastel-hued body casts and chains all came together to say a word about the African diaspora along with black beauty politics. For me, the exhibitions powerful title, “foraged, ain’t free”, brought me to think about blatant cultural appropriation paired with blatant cultural ignorance. It says, you can’t forage for the bits of culture that suit you and leave the rest; there is a price that comes with those bits which appeal to you—Tau’s work forces her audience to absorb the rest of it under a soft curtain of aesthetic splendor.
Be sure to stop by Tau Lewis’ solo exhibit “foraged, ain’t free” at Studio 223A (223A Augusta Avenue), on display until Sunday, October 23rd, 2016.
Words & Photos by Nikki Bagheri.