Tavares Strachan


2 panels; oil, enamel, bambara mask (mali), natural fibers, pigment, brass, and acrylic
84 x 84 x 2 1/2 inches

Stars remain my metaphor. They stand for the freedom that unlocks my imagination. – Tavares Strachan

Synthesizing history, art, and science, Tavares Strachan’s multi-year projects and related works highlight forgotten people who were left out of the canon due to race, gender, or geography. Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr.—the first black astronaut, though he died in a supersonic jet crash in 1967 before he could visit outer space—inspired one of Strachan’s projects, where he trained as a cosmonaut and launched a satellite into orbit with Lawrence’s image on a gold urn. Elements of that project can be found in this work, The Blues, including the rocket and Space X water tower from the Florida Starship facility. Strachan places the cover of jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal’s album on an equal field with the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and a ceremonial mask from the Bambara in Mali, combining disparate imagery in a way that recalls Robert Rauschenberg’s famed silkscreens. His work has been part of numerous solo presentations, including The Bahamas National Pavilion 55th Venice Biennale in 2013. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including the 2022 MacArthur Fellowship grant, Artist in Residence at the Getty Research Institute, Frontier Art Prize, the Allen Institute’s inaugural artist in residence, LACMA Art + Technology Lab Artist Grant, Tiffany Foundation Grant, Grand Arts Residency Fellowship, and the Alice B. Kimball Fellowship.