Tau Lewis constructs intricate sculptural portraits and quilts using found, gathered, gifted and recycled materials drawn from personal environments in Toronto, New York and her family home in Negril, Jamaica.
Tau Lewis was born in 1993 in Toronto, Canada. She now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Referring to her artistic practice as “an upcycling of a circumstance”, Lewis continues a long history of black cultural production, using found objects available to her and reconfiguring these in a manner similar to a hip-hop or jazz musician.
Lewis’ portraits reference individuals within her immediate community as well as imagined ancestors; they are “celestial bodies” or talismans who act as spiritual conduits between the past, present and future.
A self-taught artist, Lewis employs highly involved methods to make her works: hand-sewing, direct carving and assemblage. Speaking of her processes, Lewis says, “I hand-stitch everything. I enjoy sewing; I did it as a kid, and it feels tender. The plaster pieces in the artwork are hand carved. I’m interested in how I can honour and continue diasporic practices of art making, which have been labour intensive and very focused on recycling and burning their own energy into the object.” By reclaiming used and discarded materials to compose her distinctive forms, Lewis engages in a practice that is recuperative and regenerative.
Lewis will have solo presentations at Haus der Kunst, Munich and Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris between 2023 and 2024. She will participate in the 2022 Venice Biennale and in group exhibitions organised by Public Art Fund at Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York and Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Massachusetts later this year. In 2021 Lewis had a solo exhibition titled ‘Symphony’ at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Group projects in 2021 include those at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, California and Prospect.5, New Orleans, Louisiana.
As part of Yorkshire Sculpture International in 2019, Lewis presented her first solo exhibition outside North America at The Hepworth Wakefield, UK. She has previously exhibited at Oakville Galleries, Oakville, Canada (2020); College Art Galleries, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada (2019); Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, Canada (2018); New Museum, New York, USA (2017); Art Gallery of Mississauga, Canada (2017); MoMA PS1, New York, USA (2017) and Art Gallery of York University, Toronto, Canada (2017).
Lewis’ work can be found in the collections of the Grinnell College Museum of Art, Grinnell, Iowa, USA; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, California, USA; Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Canada; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, Florida, USA; Metropolitan Museum of Art, Library Collection, New York, USA; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada and National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada.