I started out drawing details that got overlooked-- the shadows of fabric folds, say. Small shapes of space. Things that don't exactly make sense. Things I would edit out if I were trying to make a recognizable object.
I am interested in this kind of seeing --not of a world of known, knowable, sure things-- but a brimming, full, inchoate world. I am interested in the kind of seeing we do before we recognize something. A groping. A nearby-ness of unmined sensations. I try to draw what I see and cannot explain.
Now, decades of drawing in, I stand in my darkening studio in West Harlem, in a sort of doomed world, and try to touch something outside of language. The drawing clamours at me. As much as the world does. There are too many details, really, to even begin to get, that unseal from their objects, and ride into the drawings as if on horseback, or on bikes with pedals spinning. The more I draw, the more the drawing opens up, as if under a magnifying lens-- webs of barely visible lines, thick, tangling blackness, boomimg. I have to draw towards the bits I can make out. The world is so full of life. I am not sure what I am drawing anymore. But I have the feeling I can't draw fast enough to get it all down.
The drawing takes over, pulls, with wide hands, me in, like a commanding dance partner. I just follow. I don't seem to be drawing the outside world then, but nor do I feel like I'm making it up-- it's as if I'm drawing something just beyond the surface of the page. I'm drawing something I feel there, insistent, impatient, almost bullying. I can feel a wilderness just off the ground.
I find drawing beautiful because I can erase, but never entirely. Drawings show their own history, all their mistakes, all hesitation, or anger, or grief, or quietness, or joy-- all the precise moments that it took are registered. Drawings can never quite cover up. They stay open. The are not still, or exactly finished. They say, we are never done with this life --while still here, doing what we can-- are we?
I can only explain what I see by drawing it.
Tara Geer is a drawer-- she makes, teaches, and studies drawing. Her drawings are in the collections of the Morgan Museum, the Parrish Museum and the William Louis Dreyfus Foundation. Her work with the 6-woman activist collective, Victory Garden, is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New York Historical Society, The Beinecke Library at Yale University. She’s had solo shows in LA and in NY, and exhibited at Jason McCoy, Tibor de Nagy, Glenn Horowitz Gallery, The National Arts Club, Steven Harvey, Aran Cravey, Flowers, the Four Seasons --among others. There are 2 books about her work; Carrying Silence: The Drawings of Tara Geer; and New York Studio Conversations. She has been teaching for 3 decades –to children with visual processing challenges, museum educators, blocked artists, doctors at Yale, poets at the Homeschool, and –since 2012– in the Art and Art Education program at Teachers College, Columbia University. She was funded by The National Science Foundation, in collaboration with a team of neuroscientists, to study Harnessing the Power of Drawing for the Enhancement of Learning, and is now researching eye motion in art viewing. She has a BA and MFA from Columbia University where she had a full teaching fellowship and graduated Magna Cum Laude, and Phi Beta Kappa. She has received the Louis Sudler Prize, the Joan Sovern prize, BlogHer Voice of the Year, and multiple residencies including at The MacDowell Colony. She founded and directs the grassroots groups, Action Potluck & Sanctuary Neighborhoods. She posts on Instagram @tarawgeer