Asia Tail is from Tacoma, Washington where she is currently based. Her practice focuses on oil painting and drawing. Asia attended the Cooper Union School of Art in New York on a four-year full-tuition scholarship and graduated with a BFA and the Brandon Burns Stewart Memorial Prize for Excellence in Painting in 2014. She was an Artist Trust GAP Grant recipient and a Greater Tacoma Community Foundation Art Award nominee in 2015. Her work has recently been featured in the internationally distributed magazine New American Paintings, the exhibition NW Art Now @ TAM (formerly the Northwest Biennial), as well as in Women on the Brink at Vermillion Gallery curated by Tracy Rector.
As an extension of her art making, Asia also creatively curates special projects and art exhibitions, with an emphasis on empowering Indigenous artists. In 2015, she created the Contemporary Native Voices project for Tacoma Art Museum, interviewing over 20 individuals on Native American representation in art, and integrating Native voices into the museum’s galleries through wall text, interactive activities, and commissioned performances. In 2016, she independently curated her first exhibition, Protect the Sacred at Spaceworks Gallery in Tacoma, which brought together work from 26 Native American artists and raised funds to fight the Dakota Access Pipeline construction in North Dakota. Asia is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.
My work questions language and art discourse, which so often overwhelm the experience between artwork and viewer. My paintings point to the viewer’s responsibility to consider the role of language in images by referencing speech or reading, without ever fully reverting to it. A worm nearly struggles into a letterform. Objects sprawled in a pattern on the ground call to be read like stars or tea leaves, but remain deliberately obtuse. I am searching for alternative means of communication within painting by investigating the primal languages of wildlife and wilderness.
Just as language is made up of syntax and semantics, my scenes are composed using a personal symbology of natural subjects in unnatural arrangements. My imagery is rooted in identity. My ancestors recognized artistic, philosophical, and spiritual significance in the organic systems around them. However, I avoid recognizable signifiers of my cultural background to discourage narrow readings of my work, and instead allow multiple associations to manifest.
The search for meaning in nature parallels my attempt to make meaning through painting. I value the potential for slyness in painting, which carries so many histories that it is conversely relatively free of fixed associations. I play with the criticism that art objects are merely decorative by flattening and exaggerating patterns till they resemble wallpaper. My commitment to subtlety is a political stance, reticence as resistance. My painted messages continue to transform only with the willing participation of the viewer. They call for interpretation through intuition and introspection rather than rhetoric.