Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Tara Lynn Austin: Without Limits (An Artist Interview)

This summer the Duluth Art Institute is featuring the work of Tara Lynn Austin in the Morrison Gallery at the Depot. The show, titled Boreal Ornament, will be on display through July 1. Ms. Austin recently completed her MFA in Madison after having previously studied art as an undergrad here at UMD.

With it being Duluth Dylan Fest this week, there is an impressive installation in the Great Hall at the Depot by the artist Skye called Shakespeare's in the Alley featuring 44 textile panels adorned with Dylan song lyrics. Wednesday the artist will be giving a talk at 5:30 in the Great Hall followed by a Poets of the North Country event in the Playhouse. I would strong recommend coming early to the artist Skye's exhibition and visiting the DAI upstairs on the fourth floor for the three exhibits there as well.

What follows is an exchange with Tara Austin about the work she is doing.

EN: As I look through your website I see that colors and designs have been a long time interest. Were you fascinated by colors and design as a child? Can you share a story about your first recognition of patterns and design in your world?

Tara Lynn Austin: I grew up near Grand Marais, MN, so I was fortunate to be surrounded by nature. I was fascinated with plants and spent a lot of time reading plant identification books. Identifying plants takes careful observation and recognition of pattern and detail. The changing seasons and variety of colors found in nature inspires me, from the iridescence of hummingbirds, the vivid green of spring growth, the sugar maples in fall and the purple skies in winter.

EN: Who were your biggest influences at UMD? You really make a lot of vivid designs from our natural world.

TLA: I worked with Professor Ryuta Nakajima who reinforced the notion of science and art. I became interested in Victorian botanical illustrations while I was at UMD, especially those of Ernst Haeckel, and I spent a lot of time in the greenhouse. I started reading about the mathematics found in nature, like golden spiral, Fibonacci sequence, and fractals.

EN: When did you begin working on plexiglass? What kind of materials do you use to create the works now on display at DAI?

TLA: Boreal Ornament is all paintings made on plexiglass or glass. I became interested in working on these transparent materials when I saw a painting by Barbara Rossi at the Milwaukee Art Museum in 2016. The depth she was able to create was amazing and since then I have been experimenting with different painting techniques on both the front and back of the plexiglass or glass.

EN: I can’t help but believe you’ve gained a following of people interested in where your work will lead you. Whats your next step?

TLA: Right now I am working on a plexiglass painting as well as completing a rosemaling apprenticeship. The organic nature of this Norwegian folk art is beautiful, and I have enjoyed learning about the technique and history. I hope to continue my research of rosemaling and incorporate some of its process into my paintings.

EN: Do you have any favorite artists whose work inspires you?

TLA: I was fortunate to see Gerhard Richter’s exhibition in Prague last summer, and I enjoy the op art of Briget Riley. I also find inspiration from Scandinavian textiles like Markimekko and Josef Frank.

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Related Links
Opening Reception for Boreal Ornament
Online Gallery, Tara Lynn Austin
Interview with the artist Skye

Meantime art goes on all around you. Engage it.

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