Tanner Mothershead is a midwestern born artist. He attended undergraduate school at the Northwest Missouri State University before going on to attain his MFA at the University of Iowa with an emphasis in ceramics and minors in painting and sculpture. He has exhibited work at NCECA and published in New American Paintings.
A driving force in the creation of his work is a desire to make sense of both people and place. The work stems from a fascination with the human mind's ability to interpret, transform, and create the world around it. Much of the work formed acts as an apparatus for viewing and experiencing a conceptualized inner world in relationship to tangible reality. His research delves into the functions and meanings of symbolism, spatial relations, and degrees of abstraction. Elements of Jungian psychology, philosophy, and architecture are woven together in these biomorphic surreal narratives.
Briefly tell us about your current work.
My current work focuses on the relationship between physical and perceived reality, with an emphasis on the inner worlds people create either for idle pleasure or to escape traumatic experiences. Everyday in the news we hear about mass shootings and are bombarded with senseless acts of violence. I think about events that have happened to the people closest to me as well as a deeply traumatic event in my own life, the dots and lines of happenings and how they connect. The work I make becomes objects of connection. They appear outwardly as fun fantasy worlds with bright color, enticing one to look deeper. Neon doors, steps, and pathways act in contrast to darker, more sinister, elements buried further in.
At first glance your work looks very material based. Can you give us some insight about your use of materials?
I suspend layers of paint and other materials in transparent resin in order to form sculptural paintings. This drive stems from my compulsive desire to give physical form and depth to these imagined spaces; I wish to make more concrete the fact that the mental landscape is just as real as the one we all share. They take the shape of geoded doorways or shards, reminiscent of transitional spaces, as well as how our perceptions of reality build up over time and pressure. Most recently I have begun making them in the form of the midbrain and visual cortexes, the parts of human anatomy linking the eye to the brain. They remain as fragmentary images of places alien to outsiders and have a shallow, ghostly, topographical map stamped on its surface.
Spiritually, I work to embody elements from two notable psychotherapists, who also dabbled in creative practice: Carl Jung, who was a leading pioneer in the understanding of the inner human, and Herman Rorschach, who utilized a delicate balance of pure abstraction to that of recognizable objectivity.
Who in the art community inspires you?
Currently the artists I have found inspiring, and thoroughly enjoyed following their practice, have been Lauren Clay, Michael Reeder, Alex Eckman-Lawn, and Donté K. Hayes.