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Life & Work with Tara Booth

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tara Booth. 

Hi Tara, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I grew up in a small town in Northern Michigan. As a kid, I was always interested in tactile play. Things like building sandcastles, digging for worms, painting the palms of my hands, and playdough. I went to an arts school for elementary but didn’t stick with visual arts until I started college. There, I changed my major a few times and decided on graphic design. I noticed I wanted to reach into the computer and physically change things around, so that was clearly not the path for me. Luckily, I was taking a ceramics course and my professor, Paul, encouraged me to stick with the medium. Paul has been my biggest inspiration throughout my career and I silently thank him every day for encouraging me to pursue ceramics. I try to emulate his teaching style in my own classes by encouraging each budding artist to run wild with their personal vision and aesthetic. Paul was also openly queer with his students, giving me the confidence to be out with mine as well. After graduating college, I moved around a lot, attended an MFA program on the East Coast, and am now rooted in Kansas City, Missouri. I teach full-time at a small, women’s college in Southern Missouri. 

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Of course, I’ve had struggles along the way, every artist has. We live in a country where art isn’t supported or seen as a stable career path. Artists have to pave their own way and define what success means to them. For me, success is having an active studio practice, no matter where in the world I’m living or working. 

Can you tell our readers more about what you do and what you think sets you apart from others?
I describe my work as a manifestation of digestion, both physically and mentally. My work is rooted in ceramics but incorporates various other materials. I feel the most like myself when I am installing a large-scale installation. There are moments in that process where I think, “This is it. This is why I’m alive.” I think right now, though, people might recognize my work for a recent collection of small, body-like ceramic pieces with gold lips and fake tongues. The majority of the work I’ve made lately has mimicked a bodily shape and been adorned with recognizable elements, like fake teeth, fake tongues, human hair, and googly eyes. When I look back at my work, the thing I’m most proud of is the evolution that has taken place. I feel proud and thankful to have watched my work change, expand, and adapt over the past few years. 

Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
To those starting out: getting a degree in art is not the only way to become an artist. It worked out for me that way, but school isn’t for everyone. Take some time to reflect on what success means to you and your practice and learn how to talk about your work to an audience. Always have a dedicated studio space. Whether that’s a warehouse in New York or a corner of your studio apartment where you can only sketch, it’s all valid. Keep making, keep growing. If you never sell your work, it doesn’t matter. That’s not the point of art-making. Do it for yourself and put your perspective out into the world in a way that makes sense to you. I’ve met a lot of artists that are social climbers and see people for what they can do for them… don’t be like that. Everyone is on their own journey, yours is not better or worse. 

Contact Info:

  • Email: tarabooth2@gmail.com
  • Website: tarabooth.com
  • Instagram: taraboothstudio

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