Tariku Shiferaw is known for his practice of mark-making that explores the metaphysical ideas of painting and societal structures. This formal language of geometric abstraction is executed through densely layering material to create “marks,” gestures that interrogate space-making and reference the hierarchy of systems. As the artist explains, “A mark, as physical and present as cave-markings… reveals the thinker behind the gesture—an evidence of prior markings of ideas and self onto the space.”
Apart from paint on canvases, Shiferaw also incorporates ready-made objects and materials in his installations, often using transparent and colored mylar, and subverting their utilitarian characteristics in assembly or hanging to create a body of evocative works that question perception and space. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, growing up in Los Angeles, and currently based in New York City, Shiferaw finds inspiration from the diverse cultures in his environments, particularly in the areas of music and language. Shiferaw’s ongoing series of paintings One of These Black Boys references musical genres that have originated in black communities—Hip-hop, R&B, Reggae, Afrobeats, Blues, and Jazz—a context that charges the works with musical references, identities, and cultural histories.
Shiferaw’s work may be understood in the framework of midcentury abstraction, but the artist also infuses this formal vocabulary with critical observations from popular culture.
Museum exhibitions that have presented works by Tariku Shiferaw include the 2017 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, New York; A Poet*hical Wager at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Ohio; Unbound at the Zuckerman Museum of Art (ZMA), Kennesaw, Georgia; Men of Change, organized by The Smithsonian Institution, and held at the California African American Museum (CAAM), Los Angeles; and What’s Love Got to Do with It? at The Drawing Center, New York, New York. Shiferaw has participated in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art (Studio), in Open Sessions at The Drawing Center (2018-2020), and he was artist-in-residence at the LES Studio Program in New York City. Shiferaw is currently an artist-in-residence at the World Trade Center through Silver Art Projects.
Shiferaw was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1983, raised in Los Angeles, California, and now lives and works in New York City.
Thursday, May 6, 2021 at 5:00pm
and Saturday, May 8, 2021 at 2:00pm
With Adebunmi Gbadebo, Samuel Levi Jones, and Tariku Shiferaw, moderated by Seph Rodney
May 6, 2021
Watch recording here
Charles Moore and Tariku Shiferaw
Held on April 15, 2021
Watch recording here
Organized by Rhode Island School of Design
Held on Monday, March 1, 2021
February 6, 2021 at 1:00pm EST
Curated by Niama Safia Sandy
Developed by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES)
Anacostia Community Museum, Washington, DC
Through May 31, 2021
May 5, 2021
by Charles Moore
April 26, 2021
by Katie White
by Nzinga Simmons
August 23, 2017
by Seph Rodney