Testimony is a series of painterly still life photographs created using real insects, animal skeletons and other organic matter to establish a visual sense of the frantic beauty inherent in the natural world and how it often manifests itself in a simultaneously terrifying and spectacular manner. Shot with 8x10 color film, the photographs are intended to be presented larger than life, in the vein of altarpiece paintings that have been prevalent throughout art history.
I have always thought of my work as theater or as a book, with each series being an act or a chapter. Prior to Testimony, the content of my work was fleshy and lush, using wine and blood as frequent allegorical symbols inspired by Bacchanalia and Christian iconography. Testimony is a continuation of past series into a new narrative world where the feast has dried up and carnal pleasure has subsided. The wine is replaced by dirt and the flesh has withered away to the bone in a seemingly apocalyptic way. Insects, including moths, beetles, and locusts are significant characters, multiplying throughout the series and eventually overtaking the tableaux. They introduce a heightened sense of the primal instinct present in the natural world and the coexisting fear, vulnerability and wonder felt from encountering something so powerful and wild.
End of the world imagery from art history has been a source of inspiration for Testimony. These works possess a dramatic, eccentric, visceral chaos which can be alluded to the condition of existence in the world. Last Judgement paintings often depict skies filled with constellations of falling or flying angels, creatures and demons, which has become referential for the composition of insects in my work. As artists in the Baroque period did, I intend to arouse an internal response in the viewer by making imagery that marries the harsh and intense with the elegant and seductive.
- Tara Sellios
Tara Sellios is an artist working mainly in large format photography, but also in watercolor and installation. She received her BFA in photography and art history from The Art Institute of Boston in 2010. Testimony, her fourth and most recent solo exhibition, took place at Blue Sky Gallery in Portland, OR in March of 2017. She is a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council fellowship and has been recognized by the Huffington Post and Art New England as an emerging artist to watch. Known for her large scale works and intense, visceral imagery, Sellios lives and works in her studio in South Boston where she is currently preparing for a show at C. Grimaldis gallery in Baltimore.