Tobia Makover: Myself a Memory
One of the great pleasures of attending a variety of portfolio reviews over the years is having the opportunity to experience a photographer’s work over time. I reviewed Tobia Makover’s encaustic photographs at Atlanta Celebrates Photography two years ago, and when I saw her work at the Click Photo Festival recently, I was blown away by the progression of her photography and her installation in the Sleight of Hand exhibition at the Visual Art Exchange in Durham, North Carolina. Sleight of Hand features photo-based object works “where each piece requires a physical action from the viewer to be fully experienced. This art is made to be touched”. The exhibition, running until the end of the month, features the one-of-a-kind assemblage and installation pieces and Tobia shares the walls with Addison J. Brown, Brooke Caudle, Heidi Kirkpatrick and Lori Vrba.
Tobia’s way of presenting images is more about the comprehensive whole than the singular. Like a giant self portrait of memories, ranging from insignificant to life changing, her installations speak to the metaphorical visual Rolodex of her life, where her diaristic work comes together in a delicate, but powerful telling of who she is. It is a fascinating and exciting way to experience photographs and I can’t wait to see more.
A fine art photographer and mixed media artist, Tobia Makover creates visual discourse through timeless and emotiv imagery. Each piece starts as a photograph – the soul and spine of her work – then is layered with paint that is carved, torched, and preserved in wax and resin through an ancient encaustic process. The world of her work is one that encapsulates our memories, our childhood, our fantasies and fears. She resuscitates those moments in our life that were never photographed, but remain forever ingrained within us, waiting to captured and revived.
Internationally acclaimed, Tobia has exhibited at the National Portrait Gallery in London, Les Ateliers de L’Image in St. Remy, France, PH-Neutro in Verona, Italy, the Griffin Museum in Boston, AIPAD in New York, and SCAD Museum of Art in Savannah. Her work is also included in the permanent collections of Museum of Contemporary Art in Atlanta, Georgia, Savannah College of Art and Design and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans. She received her MFA in Photography from Savannah College of Art and Design and her BA in Sociology and Communications from the American University in Washington, D.C..
Tobia is a full-time artist who lives in Savannah, Georgia with her husband and two children.
What draws you to working in encaustic?
I started to work in encaustic 11 years ago. I was frustrated because I could not afford to matt and frame the work I wanted in my show. I had to edit the show down due to money instead of creative decisions. I knew something had to change.
I had never heard of the term encaustic but I knew painters used wax all the time. . . that is when I started to experiment, research and work with wax every day .. I never looked back.
What created the shift in how you present work/projects — your installations are amazing..
I love the idea that the image broke out of the glass and is able to breathe. It has completely freed up my process. I am able to work with as many images as I want and as soon as the image became 3-dimensional, all hell broke loose. I work like a madwoman. I work as if someone is chasing me. I work to think. I work to breathe. I need this process. My process is my therapy. I feel like it would cheat the viewer to have a show of just 20-25 images. It would not be authentic to my work, myself, nor my process. Yes, each image is precious, each image is quiet, calm and maybe even beautiful, but when you start placing them together, I feel the real picture comes out. Life is not just one pretty image, but full of chaos… many memories, thoughts, ideas colliding together. One image could never capture my life… one memory could never sum up my existence.
One last thought to leave with .. is the memory of loosing my father. While in the hospital (he had cancer) he would recount memory after memory .. he retold stories of love, of dancing of sadness… Every single memory (even the tough ones) he held close to his heart. I was holding his right hand when he took his last breath. I wish I could say it was a peaceful, beautiful moment, but he fought it … every step of the way. I could almost see the memories colliding into each other. . . and then nothing. He was gone. I know deep in my heart that I am desperately trying to capture each memory and make them into an object. An object I can hold onto and never let fade away.
myself a memory
every. single. memory. flies.
a storage of long felt dreams
a catacomb of lost thoughts
flying through my brain
when feet do not touch the ground
i crave a place where the birds will fly
of a time before
of a place not there
to own the space, i have
if only for a second.
Tobia Makover’s images are poetic. They are cinematic. They are artistic. Hers is a timeless world, but not a dream world. It is a world of memories collected and preserved. Her images are our memories, our childhood, our fantasies, our fears. They are moments in our life that no one was there to photograph.
The power of her work is that the audience is seduced inside their own memory bank. We apply our personal selves and our personal stories to her images. We feel strangely at home in her work.
We reside inside her shut doors and open hallways. We feel the sands of time flowing in our face. The millions of memories floating in our mind are floating in her mind as well and yet she has, sometimes painfully, reached inside and captured if only loosely the ones that we relate to. The ones that remind us that life is made of magic and that time is an illusion.
More than seeing, it’s about feeling myself as memory. – Marcus Kenney
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