"I use languages of printmaking, drawing, photography and poetic text to explore questions of cultural belonging, hybridity and memory. I work on and with the paper, the substrate civilizations are recorded upon, the last bastion of tactility in our world of virtual images. The processes themselves and metaphors they offer, the physicality of paper and drawing media, the visual sources I use, all inform my work.
There is no discernible center of my images, and the floating elements come in and out of focus, alternatively anchoring and orbiting others, settling nowhere permanently. I use perspective, but not as illusionistic tool. I cultivate the space in drawing or print that is polyphonic and at times contradictory. The works are metaphorical maps of change, perishing and memory. They beg for highly individualized, poetic translation. I hope that the viewer sees them the way one sees a familiar thicket of weeds one day, in particular moment, in particular light, suddenly awash in form and meaning."
Born in Bosnia in 1966, Tanja Softić studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Sarajevo and earned her M.F.A. in Printmaking from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia in 1992. She works across the media of printmaking, drawing, photography and book arts, and teaches at the University of Richmond. She is a recipient of the Pollock-Krasner Grant, National Endowment for the Arts/ Southern Arts Federation Visual Artist Fellowship and Soros Foundation—Open Society Institute Grant. Her work is included in collections worldwide, among them those of the New York Public Library, Library of Congress Print Department and New South Wales Gallery of Art in Sydney, Australia.
Above utilizes a three-panel narrative to link together compositions that are seemingly disparate yet elegantly complementary. The effect is a work that reads sequentially but presents no sense of order or succession, playing at Softić’s aim to create an environment of ephemerality and disorientation. In Above, a flock of black birds soar leftward across some indeterminate sky, crossing space and time in transit. No clear ground line or protagonist is established; rather, the work is meant to be viewed as a complete whole, its subject the product of how the viewer subconsciously perceives Softić’s core themes of transience and transformation according to his or her own experience. Critic James Foritano notes that in looking at Softić’s work, viewers become “like astronauts whose up is now down; we adapt with a frisson dipped both in discomfort and something like expectation.”
Studio of the Artist