Alumna Tara Sellios emerges as groundbreaking artist
Thursday, February 09, 2012
Less than two years since graduating from The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University, Sellios has already been awarded an Artist Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, landed her first solo exhibition in Boston, won a curator prize at the Griffin Museum of Photography, was named one of New England's "Seven Emerging Photographers" by Art New England magazine, and captured an international Flash Forward award from The Magenta Foundation in 2011.
Through large format photography, Sellios juxtaposes the traditional concept of still life paintings with images of carnage, bones and waste in commanding works that explore themes of life, death and impermanence.
"She is one of the most interesting and provocative young artists I have ever known," says Bonnell Robinson, Professor of Photography and Art History at The Art Institute of Boston (AIB). "By the time she reached her junior year she had already found her voice artistically, making large modular still-lifes that built on ideas and strategies of the 17th century Spanish and Dutch painters - though her aesthetic is closer to the dark luminous works of the Spanish school. Since graduation, she has produced her best work so far and done it while working full-time. Given the highly evolved nature of her work to date, it is exciting to consider what she will be doing in 10 and 20 years from now."
Sellios, 24, earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Photography from AIB in 2010, and prior to college enrolled in The Art Institute of Boston's Pre-College Program, where she now teaches.
In 2009, during her junior year, she began her breakthrough series, originally two bodies of work that became Lessons of Impermanence. She created Seven Evil Thoughts her senior year, and finished Retribution in 2011, which was her first portfolio after college.
The Boston Globe hailed Lessons of Impermanence, her first solo exhibition staged in the Suffolk University Art Gallery through Jan. 11, 2012, as "hair-raising (photos) prodding at the intersection between sumptuous and gruesome."
"Sellios strides right into the territories between nourishment and violence," acclaimed the Globe review, "between how we anthropomorphize animals and how we use them. But her main fascination is the realm that mingles attraction and repulsion, and how art uses beauty to anoint violence, make it more palatable, and raise it to mythic realms."
Sellios says her work considers the "desires and impulses we have as animals," and she uses props such as meat, bones and frozen blood, much of which she gets at Asian markets and halal butchers.
"Eating is part of it because it's something we need to do to stay alive," she says, "but the idea that we eat death to stay alive - it's kind of this animalistic quality in us."
She aims to finish her next series, Impulses, in March, and she is preparing for her first commercial show at Gallery Kayafas in Boston's South End in May.
"The thing that means the most to me is when people who aren't artists look at my work, and they tell me it makes them think about different things," says Sellios, who is originally from Danvers, Mass., and lives in Somerville. "The most common thing I hear from people is at first they're really disturbed, but then they can't stop looking at it - and they think it's beautiful."
To learn more about Tara Sellios and view her portfolio, click here.
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