Curiously Crafting – A Conversation with Tau Lewis
Posted: Feb 3rd, 2021 | Education

Hello there! I’m Justice Stacey, the Museum's Educator in Residence—welcome to Curiously Crafting, a journey into the wonderfully wide world of textiles. Through the stories of three textile artists and their practice, we will learn how people come to working in this medium from every background imaginable and in a multitude of ways. It is my hope that these stories will encourage us to work in methods of learning and making that we never thought possible as a means of engaging in conversations about the past, present and future of textiles. This series was made possible through a Seed Grant of the Ontario Trillium Foundation.

By Justice Stacey, Educator in Residence

In this edition of Curiously Crafting, we explore the wonderful world of Tau Lewis. Marvel at her momentous portraits, take a peek into her creative process, and join a conversation on her ways of learning and creating. Finally, bring a piece of Tau’s world into your own by trying the DIY project created by the artist extraordinaire herself.

Read on to learn more about Tau Lewis, watch our interview, and follow along with her process by making your own flower rope inspired by her work.

Image shows a large textile sculpture in a white cube space. The structure is a larger than life, expressive human head built from textiles. The head has a disproportionately large tongue extending out from its lips. The tongue stretches out across the floor. The head and tongue are colourful; pinks, yellows, blacks, whites and purples. Hanging around the head and tongue are long flower ropes suspended from the ceiling.
Tau Lewis, Opus (The Ovule), 2020. Image courtesy of Tau Lewis.

Tau Lewis – a background

Producing works of breathtaking size, vivid colour, and wonderful oddness, Tau Lewis is a creative force to be reckoned with. Self-taught, she uses hand sewing, carving, and assemblage to transform found objects into portraits of friends and imagined ancestors. This practice of using found objects draws from a history of resourcefulness in a diasporic context. Through creating, Lewis seeks to heal personal, collective, and historical traumas. Previously Toronto based, Lewis now works in Brooklyn and has shown across the world from Los Angeles to Yorkshire. 

Image shows Tau Lewis' piece "The coral reef preservation society". A large, uneven quilt made from dark fabrics. Across the fabric are applique sea creatures, created from various swathes of colourful fabric. There is a sea horse, jellyfish, a sting ray, a turtle, a hammerhead shark, coral, and other small fish.
Tau Lewis, The coral reef preservation society, 2019.

When I stumbled across Tau Lewis, I was endlessly fascinated and curious by the many materials she used, the range of places they were drawn from, and how they were used in very experimental ways. Using paint to dye fabric may not be conventional but it produced a great effect. Using fabrics collected while travelling captures stories that purchasing them all at once would not. I also appreciated that the techniques she used did not require one to have access to expensive tools, but rather asked for patience, hard work, and love for creation. Lewis’ learning journey is also unconventional, she has drawn knowledge from within, from childhood, from experimentation, and from the history of Black art movements like the Gee’s Bends Quilters and the Yard Show artists of Alabama

By digging deeper into the stories of historical and contemporary arts, we have the opportunity to discover creativity richer than we could have possibly imagined. Tau Lewis and her work do just this. I find myself thinking and questioning in ways I didn’t before. Let us all lose ourselves in the wonderful world of Tau Lewis and think big thoughts, not limited by convention or fear! 

Curiously Crafting with Tau Lewis

Join me and Tau Lewis in a conversation as we discuss a range of topics, including 3D printed snakes, creative discomfort, and the symbiotic relationship between mentor and mentee. 

Take a glimpse into the studio and creative process of Tau Lewis. 

T.A.U.B.I.S Flower Ropes Project

Created by Tau Lewis, this project invites you to bring a little piece of her world into your own space. These T.A.U.B.I.S Flower Ropes were first featured in Tau’s recent solo exhibition Triumphant Alliance of the Ubiquitous Blossoms of Incarnate Souls at Cooper Cole Gallery.

T.A.U.B.I.S Flower Ropes Instructions

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