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 Athena Tacha  (1936 - )

About: Athena Tacha


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Lived/Active: Ohio      Known for: sculptor-mod shapes, drawing

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
An environmental, installation and conceptual artists, Athena Tacha creates work that is inspired by intellect and intellectual theory. Primarily an aesthetician and art historian, Tacha has superimposed these scholarly disciplines upon the fire of the creative act and the role of artist she later assumed, stifling aesthetic and emotional expression in the name of theory and social criticism. The artist's themes include ecological threats and corporate exploitation of the female body and psyche by the frivolity of fashion. In the 90s, Tacha created "armor"rape armor, breast cancer armor, armor for battered women, etc, that, in the end, as the artist notes, cannot protect against the vagaries of life.

Athena Tacha was born in Larissa, Greece in 1936, and lived there during the Second World War and Greek Civil War. She graduated from the Girls' Gymnasium, the Alliance Francaise, and the Larissa Conservatory of Music with a diploma in harmony. In 1954, she visited Paris and museums of modern art.

She studied sculpture at the National Academy of Fine Arts in Athens from 1954, receiving an M.F.A. degree in 1959. She studied French literature at the Alliance Francaise, where she also taught from 1956 to 1960, and she received a Fulbright grant to study art history at Oberlin College in Ohio in 1960 and 1961.

Tacha continued her studies in art history and aesthetics at the Sorbonne, University of Paris with the aid of a Greek government grant. She received her Ph.D in 1963, with her dissertation on "The Role of Light in Modern Sculpture." She also gained a Certificate of Museology from the Ecole du Louvre.

Back in the United States in 1963, Tacha served, for the next ten years, as an assistant curator and curator of modern art at the Allen Memorial Art Museum of Oberlin College, and in 1973, she turned to teaching sculpture at Oberlin until 1998.

Tacha participated in her first juried exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1966. In 1967, she published "Rodin Sculpture at the Cleveland Museum," her first book on art history.

She won first prize in sculpture in 1968 at the Cleveland Museum, and would do so again in 1971 and 1989. She became an American citizen in 1969, the same year that she published her second book on "Brancusi's Birds" and had her first one-woman exhibition at the Akron Art Institute in Ohio.

In 1970, Tacha put on one of the first three exhibitions of conceptual art in the United States, reflecting a primary interest and pointing the direction of her own future work. A summer in Greece and time in Rome studying public spaces, led to her first conceptual work designing "step sculptures." Her work was also influenced by Incan, Aztec and Mayan architecture during travels in Peru and Mexico. "Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition," her first large scale step sculpture was made for the Blossom Music Center in Peninsula, Ohio in 1971. In 1973, she exhibited at New York City's Women's Inter-Art Center in a conceptual art show.

In 1979, then from 1985 through 1992, she exhibited with the Zabriskie Gallery in New York City. She traveled to India and Nepal in 1983 and China in 1991-1992. She exhibited her Massacre Memorials, at the Max Hutchinson Gallery, New York, in 1984. She moved to Washington, D.C. in 1998.

Through the 1990s, Tacha exhibited and executed many installations and public art commissions: for the Connecticut Department of Transportation, "Transit and Wave Fall," 1991-1992; University of Minnesota, St. Paul, "Eco-Rhythms" and "Rhythmics," 1995-1996; University of Florida, Gainesville, "Sealed Memories," 1998.
In 2000-01, she designed a 40,000 sq. ft. plaza in Dallas, Texas for a sports arena, the American Airlines Center, creating fountains and pavement design for what would be called "Victory Plaza."

A book of Tacha's public commissions and finalist models for competitions, "Dancing in the Landscape: The Sculpture of Athena Tacha," was published in 2000.

Athena Tacha's awards and exhibitions include:
1974: Fellowship at the Center for Advanced Visual Studies, M.I.T., where she made Charles River Step Sculpture, a turning point in her aesthetic
1976: Won her first national commission, Tide Park, Smithtown, NY. Received the Ohio Arts Council Visual Arts Award.
1978: Won second national commission (GSA), Ripples, Norfolk, VA. Tape Sculptures solo installation-show at Wright State University Art Gallery, Columbus, OH.
1980: Selected by Janet Kardon for inclusion in The Pluralist Decade, U.S. pavilion, 39th Venice Biennale.
1981: Won two largest commissions: Blair Fountain, Tulsa, OK, and Connections, a city-block park for Franklin Town's development, Philadelphia (built in 1992).
1985: Won two major public art commissions: Merging, Cleveland, and Green Acres, Trenton, NJ.
1989: Major retrospective (over 100 works) at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, organized by Catherine and John Howett. Solo show, New Works, at the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art.
1990: Received Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, the College of Wooster, Wooster, OH.
1991: Awarded Ohio Arts Council individual artist's grant.
2001: Solo exhibition of new sculpture and drawings at the Foundation for Hellenic Culture, New York.

Biographical documents for Athena Tacha may be found at:
Archives of American Art, Washington, DC
Oberlin College Archives, Oberlin, OH
Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

From Eleanor Munro, "Originals: American Women Artists"
and internet

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