Tariku Shiferaw

Athens Residency Fellow (Spring 2023) and EPI Fellow (Fall 2023)

Tariku Shiferaw is a New York based artist who explores mark-making through painting, addressing issues around space-making within societal structures. Group exhibitions include Men of Change, a four-year nationally traveling exhibition with the Smithsonian Institution (2019-2023); Unbound, at the Zuckerman Museum of Art (2020-2021); The 2017 Whitney Biennial, as part of Occupy Museums (2017); A Poet*hical Wager, at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (2017); and What’s Love Got to Do WithIt?, at The Drawing Center (2019). Solo exhibitions include It’s a love thang, it’s a joy thang, at Galerie Lelong, NY (2021), This Ain’t Safe, at Cathouse Proper, Brooklyn (2018); and Erase Me, at Addis Fine Art, London (2017).

Shiferaw participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program (2018 -2019), Open Sessions at The Drawing Center (2018 – 2020), LES Studio Program (2019 – 2020), and Silver Art Projects (2020 – 2022).

“I work in painting and installation art addressing issues around space-making within societal structures. In my ongoing body of work titled, One of These Black Boys, I explore mark-making through painting, addressing issues around space-making within societal structures. Every piece is titled using Hip-Hop, R&B, Blues, Jazz, Reggae, and Afrobeats. In appropriating songs created by the African Diaspora as painting titles, the work automatically inherits the references, identities, and history portrayed through the lyrics, while simultaneously referencing Western abstraction.

In my new series, Mata Semay (Amharic for “night skies”), I use mythology to address the concept of mark-making and erasure as a way to engage social constructs. Roland Barthes described mythology as a ‘phenomenon of mass culture’, a semiological system which can transcend factual systems. Mythology is an invisible force that shapes our imaginations and interpretations of our reality. Mata Semay is an immersive installation composed of imagined night skies and constellations using various symbols of ancient Africa, its diasporic cultures, and contemporary and intuitive symbols I feel drawn to. The sound consists of the hum of ancestral prayers, chants, and other abstracted sounds emanating from underneath the ceramic sculptures.”

A Strange Place to Cast Our Dreams, 2022, ceramic, acrylic, canvas, chain-link-fence, and sound. (Installation at Smack Mellon).