Tara Leach is a visual artist and high school art teacher who works in acrylic and mixed media. Documenting the demands of womanhood, from her own point of view and her daughter's, using photo albums and smartphone photo archives as a starting point, is the main focus of her recent work. Tara is a contributing artist in the upcoming 2018-2019 MAWA RAMP mentorship group exhibition at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba in Brandon.
What She Sees
Since my daughter was tiny, she has been the main subject of a multitude of family photos and digital images. I have used favourites from among these as reference images for acrylic and mixed media portraits through which I wished to record her growth, to freeze time, and to preserve, often in elaborately decorated form, the awe and terror I felt at being her mother.
Now that she is thirteen - that threshold age between girlhood and womanhood – I am aware that a startling shift has occurred. She, not me, is the one holding the camera, noticing, selecting, emphasizing features of her world. Her photos show what the world looks like to her, what she looks like to herself, and how she is making sense of it all. When I paint from images she has created, at play in her own world, I glimpse her point of view, and the limitations of my own.
She sees better than I do because she looks her world straight in the face. She is inside it, making meaning and connections from within. I may look on with admiration or trepidation, but I am always peering in from outside, from a point of view formed in another time and place. This has always been true but, as she gets older, I am realizing it more.
The illusion of light is important in this work because of its power to make time and emotion visible. I use it opportunistically and purposefully – taking advantage of highlight and shadow effects produced by a camera flash or deliberately melting edges to blend figure and ground. I also include abstraction – especially geometric circles – to refer to the natural and supernatural that operates beyond our everyday perception but nevertheless influences our lives.
Coming to terms with the increasing independence and autonomy of my daughter, realizing that what I saw has been replaced by what she sees, and realizing that she must and will make her own way in a world that is not mine, but hers, are essential ideas in these works.