Meet P.3 Artist | Tavares Strachan

Tavares Strachan, Polar Eclipse, 2013, Courtesy the artist.

“With an eye toward the Beuysian trope of social sculpture that aims to shrink the intellectual and entertainment-value distance between art and everyday life and another eye on science, Strachan strives to make works that bridge gaps in the imagination and in effect allow us to see things we don’t often see, to make the invisible visible. His work is less about the “contested” body in the popular postmodern sense derived from much art history, than it is about the inner functions of the body as they are laid out scientifically. There are no cyborg manifestoes lying within these bodies. In that sense, it is also about the universality of the human body rather than the differences highlighted in many identity-based practices that strive to differentiate between us.”

—Franklin Sirmans (Sirmans, Franklin. “Tavares Strachan: The Orthostatic Intolerance.” Grand Arts, January, 2010.)

Tavares Strachan, Polar Eclipse, 2013, Courtesy the artist.

The work of Tavares Strachan reconciles aesthetic simplicity and the complexity of experience. His practice crosses into multiple fields of study and is not confined to any one specific medium. In fact, his work has reached out to seemingly everywhere, from the Arctic, to underwater, to outer space. His research has included expeditions such as training at the Yuri Gagarin Russian State Science Research Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, journeying to the Arctic in commemoration of the 1909 journey of African-American explorer Matthew Henson, suspending a representation of the human circulatory system in 900 gallons of mineral oil, and harvesting a 4.5-ton block of ice from Alaska, transporting it via Federal Express back to his native Bahamas for display in a solar-powered freezer at his childhood elementary school in Nassau in one of his most well-known endeavors The Distance Between What We Have and What We Want (Arctic Ice Project) from 2004–6. His 2011 exhibition “Tavares Strachan: seen/unseen,” shown in an undisclosed location in Manhattan, included video works related to his experiences in weightlessness at the Cosmonaut Training Center. In 2013, Strachan represented the Bahamas in the nation’s first inaugural pavilion at the 55th International Venice Biennale, and arranged for forty fourth-, fifth- and sixth- graders from Nassau’s Sadie Curtis School to perform a traditional Inuit hunting song Aya Aya (un-translated) in a cappella as the soundtrack for his exhibition titled Polar Eclipse. Although Strachan was technically trained as a glass artist and a sculptor, according to artist Kantara Souffrant, “as a thinker and a cultural critic, he holds his own with great Caribbean scholars such as Édouard Glissant and Stuart Hall. Although Strachan echoes Glissant’s call to imagination as a force for changing the world, the ideas in his work do not emerge solely from his experience as a “Caribbean” artist in the diaspora. If, as Hall states, representation is a form of power, then Strachan’s art is a way of complicating recurrent themes such as invisibility, migration, and displacement and to understand what Strachan describes as “the capacity of both persons and matter to withstand inhospitable environments.””

Tavares Strachan, The Distance Between What We Have and What We Want, 2006, Courtesy the artist.

For Prospect.3: Notes for Now, Tavares Strachan will be creating You Belong Here, a fifty-foot-long, ten-foot-high neon piece as a message to the city of New Orleans, one that embodies the idea of endurance whilst prompting us to consider ourselves in relation to others, to the spaces in which we inhabit, and to the world at large.

Tavares Strachan at the Yuri Gagarin Russian State Science Research Cosmonaut Training Center in Star City, Russia, 2008-11, Courtesy the artist.

Tavares Strachan, born 1979 in Nassau, Bahamas, studied painting at the College of the Bahamas in Nassau and liberal arts at Brown University. He received a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2003, where he studied glass, and an MFA in sculpture from Yale University in 2006. He currently lives and works in New York City.  Solo exhibitions include: MIT List Visual Arts Center (where he held residency), Cambridge, MA; Grand Arts, Kansas City; ICA, Philadelphia (2009); The Luggage Store, San Francisco; and the Albury Sayle Primary School, Nassau, The Bahamas.  Most recently, Strachan was featured at the 12th Lyon Biennale and represented The Bahamas at the 55th International Venice Biennale.

Site for Tavares Strachan: seen/unseen

Written by Danni Shen, Social Media Co-Director