Tavares Strachan is launching “,” a far-reaching community engagement project in Telluride, Colorado informed by his long-term collaboration with the local residents.
This project seeks to bring the community together and to add to the narrative of Telluride. I was interested in shedding light on local issues around housing, climate, food, education, and immigration. It is about coming together to research and address some of these questions at a local level that resonates more broadly in our current climate. In this moment of nationalism, it is particularly difficult to manage global issues without zooming in on local issues.
Tavares Strachan’s artistic practice activates the intersections of art, science, and politics, offering uniquely synthesized points of view on the cultural dynamics of scientific knowledge. Aeronautics, astronomy, deep-sea exploration, and extreme climatology are but some of the thematic arenas out of which Strachan creates monumental allegories that tell of cultural displacement, human aspiration, and mortal limitation. His text-based neon sculptures are an anthem for our political and cultural moment, and his lexicon an effort to mobilize community and societal change. Strachan’s ambitious, open-ended practice has included collaborations with numerous organizations and institutions across the disciplines.
One of Strachan’s most iconic projects, The Distance Between What We Have and What We Want (2006), began with a journey to the Alaskan Arctic to excavate a 4.5-ton block of ice, which was then transported via FedEx to his native Bahamas and displayed in a solar-powered freezer in the courtyard of his childhood elementary school. Both physically arresting and metaphorically resonant, the piece referenced the fragility of Earth’s homeostatic systems and the strange poetry of cultural and physical displacement, as well as the little-known contributions of Matthew Henson—an under-recognized American explorer and the co-discoverer of the North Pole.
In 2004, Strachan initiated an ambitious four-year multimedia body of work entitled Orthostatic Tolerance—the title referring to the physiological stress that cosmonauts endure while exiting and re-entering Earth from outer space. Exhibited in phases between 2008 and 2011, the Orthostatic Tolerance project incorporated photography, video, drawing, sculpture and installation, documenting Strachan’s experience in cosmonaut training at the Yuri Gagarin Training Center in Star City, Russia and his experiments in space travel conducted in Nassau under the Bahamas Air and Space Exploration Center (BASEC)—the artist’s answer to NASA for the Bahamas.
On December 3, 2018, Strachan launched his project ENOCH into space. Created in collaboration with LACMA Art + Technology Lab, ENOCH is centered around the development and launch of a 3U satellite that brings to light the forgotten story of Robert Henry Lawrence Jr., the first African American astronaut selected for any national space program. The satellite launched via Spaceflight’s SSO-A: SmallSat Express mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The sculpture will continue to circle the Earth for seven years in a sun-synchronous orbit.
Strachan was born in 1979 in Nassau, Bahamas, and currently lives and works between New York City and Nassau. He received a BFA in Glass from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2003 and an MFA in Sculpture from Yale University in 2006.
Strachan’s work has been featured in numerous solo exhibitions including You Belong Here, Prospect 3. Biennial, New Orleans; The Immeasurable Daydream, Biennale de Lyon, Lyon; Polar Eclipse, The Bahamas National Pavilion 55th Venice Biennale, Venice; Seen/Unseen, Undisclosed Exhibition, New York; Orthostatic Tolerance: It Might Not Be Such a Bad Idea if I Never Went Home Again, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge; among others. He has been the recipient of numerous awards including 2019-20 Artist in Residence at the Getty Research Institute, 2018 Frontier Art Prize, and the Allen Institute’s inaugural artist-in-residence in 2018, 2014 LACMA Art + Technology Lab Artist Grant, 2008 Tiffany Foundation Grant, 2007 Grand Arts Residency Fellowship, and 2006 Alice B. Kimball Fellowship.
Since 2000, the Telluride Foundation has worked to improve the quality of life for residents, the workforce and visitors of the Telluride region. We meet the challenges of today and tomorrow with a focus on serving people, strengthening community organizations, addressing emerging and unmet needs and bolstering our region’s economic ecosystem; all to Make More Possible for everyone living and working in the Telluride region. The community is our work. It takes the entire region to make Telluride the magnificent place that it is. Our community includes a diverse group of individuals, from ranchers in the west end town of Paradox, to die-hard ski enthusiasts in Telluride; from visitors and 2nd home owners in the Mountain Village to retired miners in Ouray, and everyone in-between. We think beyond our three canyon walls to help the entire region thrive. By coming together as a community, we can make more possible.
Ah Haa School for the Arts
The Ah Haa School for the Arts is a vital component of the Telluride community, inspiring artists and audiences since 1991. A center for creative expression, Ah Haa offers diverse inspirational multi-media classes for both youth and adults alike. Artmaking is an integral part of humanity, challenging us to think about life in new and different ways, imagining a more hopeful future. Together is a call out to our community – and the larger world – to find connection and common ground through direct communication and action. Ah Haa will engage community members in this project through participatory events and programming for all ages – lectures, writing, performance, object making – to create a dialogue and self expression inspired by the text. Our hope is that participants and observers alike will be inspired to come together to create a better world.