We had the good fortune of connecting with Tara Kelley-Cruz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tara, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
The principle of risk is one that I practice regularly in my art making process. When I am stuck, when my art practice is feeling stagnant, or when I don’t absolutely love what I’ve created, I force myself to take a big risk. Risk in this setting can take the form of painting over areas that I love, sanding back into areas that I thought were finished, or sometimes just adding a bold swath of a contrasting color to the painting. This gives me something to react to. It enlivens my practice and my art. I have learned that if I have risked nothing in a work of art, it shows. It feels “safe”, and a bit boring. I am learning to take the principle of risk from my art practice into my life. A life where nothing is risked feels “safe” and a bit boring as well.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My work explores memory and history. My paintings are layered with 10 to 12 layers of paper and paint. Each layer is textured with various mark making tools. I’m building up a history. Then I come in and sand, or remove parts of the surface, revealing what is beneath. In this way, my surfaces become rich with history and texture. I have developed visual symbols which mean certain things to me. Connection, seeking for direction, spiritual enlightenment, confusion, progression. Many times, themes emerge while I’m working. My latest series contains themes of hope, isolation, fantasy, escape, seeking, and beauty in the turbulence of life. I’m attracted to the notion of seeking for direction in life. There are times in life when we are at a crossroads. Maybe a chapter of life has ended. Maybe our circumstances have changed through marriage, divorce or other milestones. We may feel lost and we need to reconnect with ourselves to find where our passions lie. What should we pursue in life? What do we want to put our energy into? This concept is illustrated in many of my works.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Nicholas Wilton, Artist and Mentor. He taught me to embrace risk in my work. Denver and Colorado Springs Art Communities.