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Tara Geer: Strangely Blooming
April 21–May 21, 2022

Opening Reception: Thursday, April 21, 6-8pm

Tara Geer: Strangely Blooming features a series of monoprints created by the artist upon her return to New York City this past Fall. Inspired by her beloved City’s resilience, the exhibition also features two large collage drawings.

Artist Statement

This Fall, my family moved back into our apartment in Washington Heights, and I went back to work in my studio in West Harlem, after a year in an old farmhouse, in the woods, in MA.

I have lived in NYC since the ’80s, but returning, I was surprised to see almost everything—in every direction—is made. Someone’s hands have touched, and painted, and sanded, and caulked, and dirtied, and worn down every single part. In all these stacked and mortared bricks, sidewalks of things manufactured and broken, garbage, graffiti, printed signs, take-out containers, plastic bags skittering along the pavement, I found myself wondering how do things grow here? Or, where do they grow from? This City, even harmed and threadbare and exhausted as it feels right now, is so alive. You feel an almost insane heartbeat, and yet, where would something like a sprout emerge? I wasn’t exactly wondering about real plants—which seem largely doomed—but the palpable quickening, soil, lumpy bulbs. In elevator shafts and gloomy laundry basements across the City, zombie-like bloomings are unfurling with delicate and ghastly paleness. The poet Roethke wrote, “I can hear, underground, that sucking and sobbing, In my veins, in my bones I feel it, /The small water seeping upward, The tight grains parting.”

Months into the strangely blooming drawings, during the winter surge, I went to an art store with my seven-year-old. We happened upon envelope-sized sheets of soft, fake linoleum to make fabric stamps. Who knew there was such a thing as fake linoleum? By the end of the week, I advanced to pink linoleum, and within a few months, I’d carved scores of bulb-ish things and stems and unfurlings and then inked, combined, and pressed them onto many notebooks of paper. I didn’t know much about printing. I made lots of mistakes. I drew in fixes. Then I’d draw in a few connections and lumps. None ended up like the one following.

There are also two—almost nine-foot—collaged drawings of what I call my giraffes. I tape and glue pieces of other drawings—pieces that seem alive—onto the wall until I feel a creature’s quietness. They blow through their lips while I work and add a note of faint, preposterous magnificence.

Being in a pandemic this year somehow translated into the unchecked carving and printing of more bulbs than fit on the paper—and giraffes. Sometimes being an artist is like this—stumbling upon the joy of pink linoleum and gawkiness, strangely blooming.

Tara Geer is a drawer—she makes, teaches, and studies drawing. Her drawings are in the collections of the Morgan Museum, the Parrish Museum and the Harlem Children’s Art Fund. Her work with the 6-woman activist collective, Victory Garden, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New York Historical Society, The Beinecke Library at Yale University, and The Canadian Museum. She’s had solo shows in LA and in NY, and exhibited at Jason McCoy, Tibor de Nagy, Glenn Horowitz Gallery, The National Arts Club, Steven Harvey, Aran Cravey, Flowers, the Four Seasons, and The Drawing Center registry—among others. There are two books about her work; Carrying Silence: The Drawings of Tara Geer; and New York Studio Conversations. She is featured in three documentaries: Before and After Dinner, Generosity of Eye, and Sanctuary (for her teaching, her drawing, and her activism). She has been teaching for three decades and since 2012 at Teachers College, Columbia University. She was funded by the National Science Foundation, in collaboration with a team of neuroscientists, to study Harnessing the Power of Drawing for the Enhancement of Learning. She has a BA and MFA from Columbia University, where she had a teaching fellowship and graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. She has received the Louis Sudler Prize, the Joan Sovern prize, and residencies at Denniston Hill and The MacDowell Colony. She founded and directs the grassroots groups, Action Potluck & Sanctuary Neighborhoods

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