Precarious Opposition
Oil on Birch
24" x 36"

Exhibited during Art Basel Miami for Juxtapoz and Jonathan LeVine Projects at Mana Wynwood.

Interview question from Hi-Fructose Vol 42 - 'Precarious Opposition' is from your last exhibition, they are all beautiful pieces. Could you explain some of the ideas behind them?

'This piece comes from a very personal viewpoint, and was cathartic for me to process my own fears. You see I have a very bad neck and back, I was born with a congenital spinal defect called Chiari malformation which I had surgery for when I was 14. Surgery fixed the cyst in my spine, but a host of new problems has come with age, the main one now being cervical spinal stenosis. I used keep this info under wraps, but I feel it’s good to discuss it because so many people suffer from spinal problems. To be honest 2015 was the hardest year of my life, I was in such horrible pain the majority of the year I could barely work, which took not only an emotional toll but a financial one as well. The first flare up was early in the year and began simply when I worked on a project flat on my table instead of working on my easel in my normal ergonomic set up. My neck and left arm started burning with pain and would not quit no matter what I did. Then in the summer right after working on my first large outdoor mural, my right arm began shooting with pain and my hand went numb. I’m right handed, I was so scared and freaked out. I tried anything and everything to get better, physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractor adjustments, anti-inflammitory diet, ginger, tumeric pills, steroid pills, pain pills, when finally a spinal cortisone injection did the trick. Now that everything is back to my ‘normal’, I work very hard at my physical therapy exercises and yoga stretches every day to maintain my spinal heath. I will probably need another surgery at some point, but hopefully later rather than sooner, and after my children are a bit older.

So, when I was working on the series of drawings for my show with Merry Karnowsky, it was at the end of 2015 right after I got my injection. As an artist my biggest fear had started to materialize… I started loosing the use of my right hand. And because my immune system was lowered from the steroids, I also ended up getting a bad infection. So I put that fear into my work, into these new pieces that question the relationship between the physical and mental, and the deterioration of our bodies. The antagonists are viruses and bacteria that threaten to undermine the physical. It showcases the power of her hand in it's creative ability, but then to have that creation be full of potential decay and destruction. She herself has turned into a galactic creator composed of stars, these stars create life, which will then in turn go on to destroy life in full circle. That opposition of physical and mental presents itself to me in a precariously placed position within that diametric struggle. And of course the real inner dialog for me was her fear of her loosing the power held so gently in her hand. I wasn’t even able to finish the painting until just recently for Jonathan LeVine during Basel Miami. It feels real good to have finally conquered this painting after such a long hurdle.'
- Tara McPherson

Colleciton of Sarah Weldon and Steven Bowles