Silver Spring Artist: Tara Andris
Local artist Tara Andris has always been captivated by skies and clouds, and creates dazzling paintings not only with paint but also with metal leaf. A painter for almost 15 years, Andris has always been drawn to the natural environment, from flowers and landscapes to the occasional portraiture; but, she always returns to clouds. Andris says that “my work encourages viewers to reflect on the beauty constantly above and remember that we all share the same sky.”
Andris’s background includes an undergraduate degree in painting and art history, a master’s in museum education, and work in the education department of a museum. Now she is a full-time painter and spends her days with her three young kids, which gives her an opportunity to explore her creative and artistic side while spending time with her family.
Andris’s style emerged from her experience taking Renaissance, Baroque, Buddhist and Asian art classes simultaneously. Through the clash of the varying styles, Andris began painting skies with clouds and metal leaf, pulling the different traditions in art together. The way she paints clouds is often inspired by Asian techniques, but she deviates from the norm by incorporating metal leaf to mimic the glow of the sky.
Art with metal leaf work, such as old altar pieces and madonnas with ornate metal leaf behind them, were originally intended to be displayed in people’s homes. Without electricity, the work was viewable by candlelight, and the difference in this experience from how we view art in museums today has fascinated Andris to the point of obsession. The difference between what paintings were meant to look like and how they are experienced has captivated Andris, and her work interrogates that distinction.
Growing up wandering around art museums with her mother, Andris felt total ownership of the museums and felt like the paintings were hers. Unfortunately Andris has noticed that most people do not share her experience of feeling welcomed in museums and feeling no distance between themselves and the objects; rather, many find art to be intimidating and exclusive. Andris is adamant that there is no such thing as an “art person” and that you do not need to have any education to have an opinion about or participate in art. Her passion lies with breaking down the barriers, both as an educator and artist, to bridge the distance between the viewer and object. With her work, she seeks to remind viewers that beauty surrounds us every day, and it can be expressed by art in a way that does not have to be difficult or complicated to understand.
Andris believes that art can be a creative outlet for people, no matter what age or ability. Her advice is to keep creating, regardless of whether or not it can be sold or used in a practical way. She likens it to going on a run— creating art can have the same calming effect as going for a jog. She urges others to not be intimidated by the art complex, since whether you’re seeing art and interpreting it with the artists’ intent is irrelevant; the most important thing is what the viewer gets from it. The point of art is to make the viewer feel something, but Andris says don’t be caught up in getting it right.
Andris suggests keeping an open mind and looking at the beauty that surrounds us for inspiration. For her, finding a community to share artistic interests with can be very helpful, especially artists from different backgrounds and styles. In the absence of museums, social media is a good place to start exploring different styles and artists. But the best inspiration may be found simply by looking up toward the sky.