With every new body of work that Tara McPherson (HF Collected Edition 3) creates, there is a common theme and evolution to the next. Her upcoming show at Dorothy Circus gallery, “I Know It By Heart,” carries on her exploration of ethereal imagery – portraits of young girls caught in a magical moment, but not without also recognizing the negative forces in nature. These include allusions to disease, destruction, and deterioration. There is a balance between what is visually beautiful and, possibly, emotionally discomforting for the artist.
In previous works, her subjects’ thoughts and emotions radiated from them as little red hearts, stars and bubbles. “I Know It By Heart” takes this notion one step further with newer elements. She shares, “The paintings ended up taking an adventure towards visual manifestations, literally things coming out of their eyes, with aurora, rays of viruses, smoke, water, electricity, or even a lack of visual contact with eyes covered or a glance away from the viewer. I think the title relates to the paintings as a whole in a way where the characters are doing things that come naturally to them, where they don’t need to think, they are just acting instinctively.”
McPherson’s exhibition also incorporates smaller paper paintings and drawings. In one of these pieces, we see a girl’s face rising out of the water, as she blows smoke from her eyes and mouth. “I see her as an evolution from an umibozu, a Japanese water demon, but she is internalizing all the pollution and toxic things we put into our water. She looks pristine, but then is emitting a black horrible smoke,” McPherson says. There is also a theme of water in her first outdoor mural in Rome, her largest to date. “I know it will be a challenging and rewarding experience, especially since the City Council of Rome is involved, and the mural project as a whole deals with social activism.” While a separate project from her exhibition, it’s a concept that expands on her iconography and message of resilience. Tara McPherson’s “I Know It By Heart” will be on view at Dorothy Circus gallery from June 11 to September 26.