Leah Tacha is a Brooklyn based artist full of energy and enthusiasm who I had the pleasure of meeting a few months ago. We had a great conversation about the internet and its ability to bring together artists, creators and their admirers which led to talk of Buy Some Damn Art and finally, a show of Tacha's latest work. I hope you enjoy Leah's bright and cheerful show along with the Q/A below!
The artist's studio
Where are you from originally and where do you live currently?
Born and raised in Lawrence, Kansas (midwest at heart) , now I live in Brooklyn, NY
What's it like being an artist in such a big, artist-filled city like New York?
Honestly, its kind of great. When I first moved to New York, I felt sort of overwhelmed by the number of artists living here, like how would I ever get my work shown in a city filled with SO MANY amazing artists!? But the longer I've lived here (going on 5 years now) the smaller the artist community feels. Any artist that you meet in NY seems to know at least one artist that you are friends with and then you meet so and so at this residency or that opening and you just keep makin' friends! It's a really nice community to be a part of. I also went to grad school here, so a lot of my art buddies are still bouncin' around Brooklyn with me, which is a nice safety net. Whenever I am having a meltdown in the studio there is usually one person within a block's distance I can call to come help calm me down and help me get to the next step. :)
Scraps from the artist's collection.
We see a lot of bright colors (including a lot of hot pink) and glitter in this work. Why do you think you gravitate towards those kinds of elements?
For this body of work I have been thinking a lot about male and female versions of energy, and if I should try to make my work more "androgynous" or if its okay to commit to the fact that it is most definitely made by a woman. As it turns out, I am very okay with it being obviously made by a woman, and in fact I have more fun when I really embrace those feminine elements -- be that glitter, hot pink, flowing fabric, or a woman mid-dance move. I don't think that by embracing this the work becomes overly "girly", but almost empowering in a very bold yet whimsical, feminine way.
A friend of mine always tells me her favorite work of mine is when I just "trust my gut", rather than overthinking too much, and I think thats very true for me. So for this work, with each color decision, and collage or brush stroke placement, I just trusted myself and went with it. Within my work I want there to be a sense of immediacy and energy and mood.
Oh Rihanna, 2011.
What kinds of things inspire you most as an artist?
Oh goodness...this is a hard one...so many things! I find myself thinking a lot about amazing female musicians Beyonce, Nicki Minaj, Dolly Parton, Cher, and not just their music, but their entire personas. I also am pretty obsessed with the strength and energy found in the figures of basketball players, baseball players, dancers, etc. Also the landscape of Kansas, the colors and patterns flipping through Vogue (you can see the thousands of cutouts that I collect on my studio table), people watching, Youtube, random moments on the subway, my own worries, or joyous moments.
The artist's desk.
Describe your studio space.
I recently moved my studio back into my apartment, so we converted the largest bedroom of the apartment into my studio, and miraculously turned the smallest room EVER into our bedroom. It's working out pretty well, actually....I love being able to get a cup of coffee right in my kitchen whenever I want! (i've attached a couple of photos, I definitely don't keep a "tidy" studio....if its too clean it feels hard to make work). I've also got nice big windows which I love.
The artist's studio.
Have you been working on any sculpture projects recently? Is space an issue given the scale of your work?
I recently joined a ceramics studio in Brooklyn and am in the process of making a bunch of small scale sculptures. I love the surface of ceramic and have been using it as a material to then make sort of three-dimensional paintings on. I use a lot of materials in my sculptures, so yes, space is ALWAYS going to be an issue for me. I like to work big usually (I have daydreams about 18 ft ceilings and unending square footage, hah!), but I think its going to be a good challenge for me in this new space to scale things down and really think about what I want each piece to be, rather than just saying "I want it to be huge!". haha. I would love the opportunity to do a huge installation somewhere, but for now, I'm happy keepin' things small.
Do you have a favorite work or series? (Your own work that is.)
I'm not sure, that's really hard to answer, because things are always changing, and I'm always unsure about what I've made in the past, but I made most of these drawings last winter in Vermont at a residency program there (Vermont Studio Center) and I will always look fondly at this work probably because the experience at that residency was SO amazing. It was basically just four weeks of nothing but uninterrupted time to make your work. And we all know that time is so amazingly precious, so not having to go to a day job or worry about buying groceries or whatever, and making wonderful friends is probably why I like that work so much!
If you could meet anyone in the world who would it be?
Okay, I"m totally going to cheat on this one, because I can't pick JUST ONE!
- If I wanted to meet someone who I think is incredibly brilliant: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- If I wanted to go get a drink and laugh A LOT: Chelsea Handler
- If I could travel in time: I'd like to be a fly on the wall when my Grandma and Grandpa Tacha had their first dance
- If I wanted to be starstruck: Aretha Franklin