We had the good fortune of connecting with Tamara Rafkin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tamara, why did you pursue a creative career?
My life has centered around creativity in one form or another since childhood. My father was a musician and teacher; while I was young he started teaching me music and instilled in me a love of performances of all kinds. When I was a teenager I was involved in theater as well as visual art, but visual art became my main focus as I had more training. Being on a creative path for my career (life) was always what seemed right for me, I haven’t always been sure of what form that would take, but never questioned that I would be doing work connected to my artistic vision.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve now been creating art more than half my life and exhibiting almost as long. My work has gone through growth, different phases and I’m now creating in several mediums from photography, to sculptural ceramics with more recently to these transformational artworks that are participatory experiences for either the people involved in the projects or the involved community witnessing the project.
Being able to look at the breadth of work that I’ve created and how it’s been received, where it’s gone on to be part of collections and how it’s affected people is the wonder of looking at your work after decades of creation. Those decades have definitely had their challenges both from internal and external factors but being flexible is the biggest asset in facing those challenges ( along with strong support systems). Those moments have all added to my life as an artist pushing my problem solving abilities or expanding my vision somehow. I try and remember now when a new challenge comes along , like living through 2020, that I’ve faced challenges before and was always able to get through them – reminding myself to trust in the path I’ve chosen. All of these experiences wind up in my work somehow – whether it’s the subject matter, manner the work is created or the feeling one gets from the work. My artwork, while it’s not about my life specifically, is definitely made of threads from my life.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m no longer living in Atlanta but spent a large part of my life there (from 1987 to 1999) – so I’m always recommending to friends they need to experience the Clarmont Lounge, spend some time wandering in Oakland Cemetery, check out East Atlanta and spend time at a flea market or two. These days I’m calling New York’s Hudson Valley home and would suggest other than the Hudson River itself and all the amazing hiking trails in the area – that visiting the Storm King Art Center for its fantastic sculpture park , Shawgunk Wine Trail for various wineries in the area and stopping in several of the cities and town in the area ( Newburgh, Beacon, Cold Spring and Montgomery) all have their own jewels of shopping, restaurants, cultural spots and great views.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
There are so many people in my life that have supported and helped forward my artistic career – artists definitely benefit from their communities of friends, mentors and patrons and only succeed with their involvement. So, naming just one person from that community would be hard for me to do. Other than my family which I’m fortunate to say have always been supportive of my artistic life, there are a few people that have always been in my corner supporting my work, there with feedback and friendship – Cay Sophie Rabinowitz who has been there since before my first solo show with editing, critique, writing help, and so much more, Courtney Maier Burbela who was the art director at the first gallery that represented me in the 90’s, represented me in various moments and has not only done amazing pr for me at times but has also been a great friend for over 20 years and James Austin Murray who has always given me great feedback on work, inspirational conversations and is an artist who’s work I’ve admired and appreciated since we first became friends in 2001.
(c) Tamara Rafkin