Alexandria Tarver (Painter)

Photos by Natalee Ranii-Dropcho

Please introduce yourself.

My name is Alexandria Tarver. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas but have been living in New York City for the past 8 years and for the time being I can’t imagine going anywhere else. I’m a painter. My favorite color is yellow.

When was the first time you started to grow an interest in art?

My mother was the one who really allowed and encouraged me to draw from a very young age. She always wanted to be an artist, but as a working mother from Mexico living in the United States, she felt working towards financial security for her family was the better path for her. So she and my father worked hard in the technology and energy industries, sent me to good schools, and when I started drawing even with crayons and markers they both did everything they could to nurture and support my interest. I was in after-school drawing classes as early as 4 years old, if that gives you an idea of how long I’ve been at this.


Did you study art by yourself?

No, I was always taking classes in grade and high school. In high school I had two great painting teachers, one who taught me the fundamentals of oil painting and another, Terry Suprean, who saw I had dedication and introduced me to the work and ideas of more contemporary painters. Luckily I lived in Houston and as soon as I learned to drive I visited the Menil Collection and especially the Cy Twombly Gallery almost every day it was open. I remember being very upset if I had any kind of free time and the museum was closed.
After I graduated high school, I was accepted to the Studio Art program at NYU. I had some really dedicated professors there- Keith Mayerson, Jesse Bransford, and David Rimanelli early on. I was closest however to Jason Tomme and Maureen Gallace. I took my studio time there very seriously. Other than going to indie and rock shows, my entire life was centered around making as much work as I could. I often found myself floating around the studios in the graduate department, and learned a lot from Mary Corman, Chason Matthams, and Sam Mckinnes who were students there at the time. It was a great scene to be involved in at an early age and I love seeing how the people I met there continue to grow their practices.


What are you making now and what is the theme and message of the work?

Right now I’m working on paintings of plants and flowers. I can’t seem to get away from the subject matter since my dad passed away. The work to me is a response- a response to life’s circumstances and a response to the language of painting and mark-making. I’ve been approaching my paintings lately with those things in mind and the idea of each painting as a kind of response.

Which artists inspire you?

Cy Twombly, Joan Mitchell, Billy Sullivan, Fairfield Porter, Ellsworth Kelly, Morandi, Maureen Gallace, Albert York, Vija Celmins, Robert Gober, and Agnes Martin. Karen Walker. I keep images and books of their work with me in the studio and get a lot of comfort and challenge from them.


How was your exhibition?

Shows are always nerve-wracking but amazing learning experiences. It’s a bit stressful to have other people face to face with my work, but the process always leaves me wanting to make more or look for the next corner to turn in the studio. Retreat and reload, so to speak. I did a lot in 2015- five group shows and one solo presentation. I met a lot of great people and artists through them. I have new opportunities to look forward to.

Would you like to make art or have an exhibition in another country? If so, where do you want to go?

Well, I’m very excited to have my work included in this year’s Material Art Fair in Mexico City through the good people at Alter Space in San Francisco. It’s where my mom is from and I haven’t been back there since the one time my parents took me and my brother I was 5 years old. I still have a small glass pyramid I’ve kept as a souvenir from that last trip when we visited the Pyramid of the Sun that I look at every day. In a way it feels like going back to Mexico City will be like going home.


What is your next project?

Another painting. And another, and another.


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