Tiffany Lawson

May 10th - August 31st, 2021

Where are you from?

I was born and raised on the Southside of Columbus, Ohio, east of German Village. Graduate of South High School and The Ohio State University. The neighborhood that I grew up in is very different from what exists now. As a child, the pharmacy on the corner sold penny candy, next to the barber shop, up the street from a thriving economy that included laundromats, restaurants, clothing stores and plenty of churches. South High School had a homecoming parade that marched from Schiller Park to the stadium, with very diverse spectators that I savored. The Columbus Metropolitan Library, Parsons Avenue Branch and Main Branch were safe havens of imagination and information.. I was also a “Planet Preserver” through a program with the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department and The Columbus Foundation that made reuse important as well as affording me the privilege of local amusement. The colorful history of Grandpa Smokey Brown, Aminah Robinson,Gilda Edwards, Richard Duarte Brown, Elijah Pierce and Queen Brooks also peppered my formative years though programs that enriched my life and affinity for creativity.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by local artists as well as: Picasso, Gustav Klimt, Frida Khalo, Howardena Pindell, and Faith Ringold. I use their works as reference and research, adapting their styles to my own. I am also inspired by nature and personal experiences. I believe we are all creatives in our own right. Choosing how and when to express yourself is paramount to true freedom, both personally and collectively. Adapting the principles of Sankofa and wabi sabi allow me to flow between tradition and innovation.

What materials do you gravitate towards to create your work?

Largely, I use brown paper bags as the main substrate in my work. With the brown paper bags as a base, I am able to capture the life reuse brings. Using brown paper bags, cardboard, general use items, mixed medias and found objects I intend to enliven my work with a sense of practicality as it relates to my upbringing on the Southside and the sanctity/value with which I apply to the materials and items being used. Wauhtuka Doll scraps and stained glass window patterns can also be found in my work.

What is your work?

By utilizing several disciplines, I create mixed media assemblages, collages and drawings that explore form and color unified by the spirit of black life. Art that recovers the past, secures the present and expects the future.

Who do you look up to or look towards for inspiration?

Faith is my fuel, however, I find inspiration in the rich history of Hip-Hop and Mister Rogers’ advice.

How do you manage your time?

As an intuitive artist, time involves late nights and early mornings. When the spirit moves, I create and try to obey indicators of rest. I keep notes and sketches as maps/blueprints when building my pieces, to allow for stopping points and re-entry.

What advice do you have for other creatives?

Never measure your success with someone else’s yardstick. Rejection can be hard to manage and digest, albeit, completely healthy and necessary for your evolution. The key is to compound and apply your ideas with execution through the use of reflection.

What is your favorite thing to cook and/or eat?

I LOVE SAMMICHES OF ANY KIND EXCEPT PB&J. Only because I’m allergic to peanut butter. If given 24 hours to live, I MUST have a Snickers, Reese’s Cup, pistachios, and butter pecan ice cream. And of course, a PB&J!

Where is somewhere in the world you hope to visit? 

I will visit Machu Picchu, Lalibela, Victoria Falls and the Vienna Secession.

What does the world need more of right now? 

I believe we need more engagement and accountability. As hard as the pandemic was for everyone, re-engaging will prove challenging in regard to building communities in a way that forges a new goal for equality. To achieve this goal we must all push together in love, with grace and mercy, facilitating comfort and joy.

The CAC’s Artist in Residence program is made possible with support from the Ohio Arts Council.