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Athena Tacha


The Washington Post
Style section, March 11, 2016

In the galleries: Nature's serenity
by Mark Jenkins

Athena Tacha

After photographing such diverse locales as Ethiopia, Brazil and Namibia, Athena Tacha constructs collages from overlapping rectangular close-ups. The landscapes, titled “Shapes of Fluidity” at Marsha Mateyka Gallery, chronicle the usually long-term but occasionally sudden effects of wind, water, sandstorms and volcanic flows.

The D.C. artist’s pieced-together pictures, which are not melded with photo-editing software, focus tightly on geologic details. Images of Petra, the canyon city carved from Jordanian sandstone, show only texture and color. Occasionally, a recognizable detail neatly contrasts the near-abstract effect. In a field of Icelandic lava, for example, one sprig of greenery proves that the overwhelmingly gray photos were not shot in black-and-white.

Tacha uses a similar technique with three-dimensional natural objects, mostly derived from birds and aquatic mollusks. A flock of feathers seems ready to take to the air, expressing the idea of flight without the creature that can actually do it. Glued together, an assortment of limpet shells resembles a blossom, but one with hard-edged petals. Where Tacha’s collages offer unexpected views of real places, her witty sculptures allow organic relics to impersonate something else entirely.

Athena Tacha: Shapes of Fluidity: Photo-environments & Sculpture On view through March 19 at Marsha Mateyka Gallery, 2012 R St. NW. 202 328-0088.

In the galleries: Nature's serenity

Athena Tacha

The Washington Post, Galleries, p C8
Friday, May 10, 2013
by Mark Jenkins

A Greek-born artist who settled in Washington after a long stint in Ohio, Athena Tacha is best known as a landscape architect.  Her local projects include the plaza at Wisconsin Place, the shopping complex at Friendship Heights.  There are sketches of such schemes in Tacha’s current exhibition at Marsha Mateyka Gallery, but also works that are not directly tied to her architectural practice.  That’s why the show is called “Drawings: Private and Public, 1977-2007”.

Tacha’s landscape work often involves swooping forms and multiple terraces, motifs that can also be seen in her abstract drawings.  “ComoWaves-Light” and “ComoWaves-Dark” are both constructed from whorls that abut and sometimes overlap each other.  Each is on black paper, but where the former was drawn with silver ink, the latter uses black hot glue.  The artist’s layering of glue gives her work a painterly quality, making texture as important as color--or more so, when the piece is black-on-black.

A series of pieces on paper feature thick, shimmering orbs, sometimes suggesting close-ups of the solar surface.  While “S-Strings” is made entirely of tinseled hot glue, other works add sand or powder to the medium (which in one case is silicone rather than glue). That provides richer, more mottled hues, whether Tacha is evoking the sun or--in a piece that uses the archetypal “Greek blue”--the sky.  She also employs an airbrush to apply acrylic inks, another technique that preserves a sense of the pigment’s fluidity even after it dries.

The architectural drawings, supplemented by photographs of finished projects, range from the specific to the conceptual.  At their simplest, Tacha’s sinuous designs show a strong kinship with her abstract work.  The ”public” informs the “private” and a steady aesthetic sensibility links them both.