My work reflects the intimacy I share, and have always shared, with landscape forms, abstract textures, colour, shape, and light. My sensitivity to these elements and larger arenas of life and nature is translated through the medium of printmaking and painting. In this artistic language I am able to animate my perceptions and explore the transience of time, the character of night and day, and memories of past seasons. The images that ensue are both documents and discoveries, bridged by the fundamental element of process.
The successive stages of my projects can be planned but never fully predicted, as they depend on inner impulses and my interactions with the ever-changing environment. In this negotiation the dictates of my emotions and thoughts steer the ship, reacting to, but never surrendering to external circumstances. I do what I find important at a given instant, and allow instinct to animate the direction of my work. Art-making is my vocation and inspiration, and I use it as medicine and meditation.
Maintaining the rawness of this energy in the slow, deliberate medium of printmaking and painting is a challenge and opportunity. My present work seeks to connect these two ends, exploring process to extend and suspend the in-between. I have never practiced philosophical reflection as a prop of my work, but have always recognized the need to record my process and chart my practice. The memories of every decision, choice and thought are inscribed on my printing plates, and I seek to share that dimension with my audience. I will elevate creative activities to the rank of the finished work, and open the energy of my procedures. Through this revelation, I seek to push my work beyond the product into a place it can live.
This approach opens itself to contingency and change, which are manifested in the content and language of my work. Through this process, the domain in which my art circulates has broadened to include archetypal areas, entering an imaginary region where I'm able to bridge my thoughts and emotions with others through shared channels of the universal. Poised between emotions and formal questions, my creative world moves between a vibrant human cosmos and an abstract domain of forms and shapes.
All of my “green” projects are inspired by the feelings of caring about all living things, by the idea that human and natural environments can harmoniously coexist, and a strong conviction that such co-existence will enrich both spiritual and aesthetic dimensions of human life. In the age of synthetic trees and carbon credits, it is extremely important to remind ourselves that we have evolved in the midst of nature and that nature is an inerasable part of us.
by Laurel Reuter (Director of North Dakota Museum of Art and curator of Absolute Dot)
As a printmaker, Tarsia is part of a tradition of artists who acknowledge that their plates—the pieces of metal, plastic, wood and linoleum that they print from—are the true objects of their affection. Covered with marks, lines, and subtle traces of color, printing plates are often as interesting as the images pulled from them. Each plate is visually complex, offering a fully active and engaged surface that, once transformed into sculpture, reveals both the artist’s obsessive process and the beauty that motivates her to continue. As an environmentalist, Tarsia sees the irony of using plastic and paper to create images that celebrate the beauty of the natural world. “It reflects our society,” she says of the work. “Plastic is everywhere.” The success of her artistic career in Canada was celebrated in June 2007 when she was inducted into the Royal Academy of Arts. The success of her passion for garden design was celebrated in the January 2008 issue of Manitoba Gardner. Thus, it is fitting that the Museum galleries will resemble the blaze of color and the plant complexity of a summer garden, just as her own Winnipeg garden in known far and wide for both its brilliant color and the plethora of plants that are only supposed to flourish much further south.
Scratching the Surface
by Steven Matijcio (ex curator at Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art and presently Curator at Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art North Carolina)
Pursuing elements of the Prairies that will remain forever outside our physical grasp, Polish-Canadian artist Ewa Tarsia amplifies the ethereal through a kaleidoscopic lens. Born in Starogard Gdanski and educated in the capitals of fine art (including Austria and Germany), she is a prodigious artist who marries historical influence with the hedonism of digital illustration. Using a combination of printmaking, painting and installation, Tarsia employs colour, light, and texture as her raw materials to reflect (and dream) Manitoban surroundings. In the process, as vistas saturate into psychedelic panoramas and surfaces grow heavy with pigment and manipulation, she weaves natural phenomena into an increasingly refined language. Combining experiences of Europe and Canada, she connects Klee, Miro and Kandinsky’s fascination with colour and form with the texture (and poetic economy) of pioneering Prairie artists like Caroline Dukes and Tony Tascona. At the intersection, outside any single institution, she pushes the tradition of printmaking into remarkable new territory. Forgoing the laws of convention for irreverence and improvisation, Tarsia opens a medium saddled with convention into a fluid space of cross-disciplinary exchange and (im)material possibility. In so doing, she reconciles the intangibility of her inspiration with the physicality of her medium – scarring her plates to create dreamscapes whose feet float slowly, but unmistakably, from the ground.
Combining ambient muses with her obsessive attachment to mark-making, Tarsia pushes Prairie ground into a preternatural point of departure. The path towards this “light” is littered with the many prints, paintings and sculptures of her prodigious career, but has always fallen short of its subject’s luminous contingency. However, a pivotal turning point in this project paralleled an equally crucial turn in her working philosophy. As her studio continued to swell with used, double-sided printing plates (and all their attendant by-products), Tarsia decided to invert the model: moving these utilitarian plates from backstage vehicles to featured performers. Assembled and overlaid into mosaic-like sheets, these plate-based works could now be seen as the most fitting reflection of her evolving practice. Like archives of every thought, mistake, and decision made in the course of artistic production, these palimpsests were allowed to take centre stage as celebrations transcending the discrete product. In the process, reference is finally reconciled with representation: replacing the inertia of finished objects with the continuity of a vision that – like its source of inspiration – is continually in progress. When placed before the light, a communion takes shape as the natural environment infuses every niche and plain of the Plexiglas, becoming one inextricable whole. Shimmering with nascent life, these works offer new direction in her inexhaustible practice – allowing Tarsia to touch the origins of her terrain.