Tariku Shiferaw

Artist Name
Tariku Shiferaw
Total number of artworks
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date of birth
About the Artist

Tariku Shiferaw, a New York-based artist born in 1983 in Nairobi, Kenya, delves into the realms of mark-making within the context of painting and societal structures through his thought-provoking work. His series "One of These Black Boys" examines the intersection of painting with societal constructs, employing mark-making as a method to question both the physicality of the canvas and the underlying social fabric.

Shiferaw's approach to mark-making serves as a profound statement on presence and identity, echoing the primal act of making marks akin to ancient cave drawings, which declare "I am here" or "I was here." This assertion of existence is as vital as the identity of the individual making these marks, emphasizing the significance of context in understanding the aesthetic and conceptual underpinnings of his work.

Drawing inspiration from the realm of music, Shiferaw titles his paintings after songs by Black artists across genres like Hip-Hop, R&B, Jazz, Blues, and Reggae. These titles infuse his paintings with the rich emotional and experiential narratives conveyed through the music, covering a broad spectrum of themes from racial and societal dynamics to more personal expressions of love, sexuality, and daily existence. By doing so, Shiferaw's paintings become vessels carrying the weight of musical heritage, identity, and history.

Shiferaw's academic journey took him from the University of Southern California (USC), where he completed his BFA in 2007, to Parsons The New School for Design in New York, where he obtained his MFA in 2015. His work has been showcased in both solo and group exhibitions across the United States and Europe, with notable solo shows including "This Ain't Safe" at Cathouse Proper, New York, and "Erase Me" at Addis Fine Art, London.

Among his group exhibitions, Shiferaw has participated in "Men of Change" with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Service and "To Dream Avant-Garde" at Hammond Harkins Galleries, Ohio. He has also engaged in prestigious programs such as the 2019 Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art, further solidifying his role as a critical voice in contemporary art.

Shiferaw's educational background is complemented by his active studio practice, including participation in programs like Open Sessions at The Drawing Center, New York, and a winter residency at Vermont College of Fine Arts. His work continues to challenge and expand the dialogue around contemporary painting, societal structures, and the enduring power of artistic expression.