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Featured Faculty: Tanya Elisabeth Hartman

Tanya Hartman at the beach with a cup of coffee.

Name: Tanya Elisabeth Hartman
Born in: New York, NY
Hometown: New York, NY
BA/BFA from: BFA from RISD
MFA from: Yale
Teaching Area: Painting and Drawing

When did you realize you wanted to be an artist?
I realized definitively that I wanted to be an artist at age 17, when I took art as an academic class, rather than as an elective. However, I kept having ambivalence about my vocation, even until a few years ago, wondering if I shouldn't become a minister, rabbi or some sort of alternative healer. Only recently, in my late forties, have I known without a doubt that I am an artist.

What inspirations have you drawn from in the past?
My Grandparents fled from Berlin to Stockholm and then to Cuernavaca, in the state of Morelos, in Mexico during World War II. I spent large amounts of my childhood and young adulthood in Mexico and later in London, where my father moved when I was 24. Feeling the Jewish Diaspora keenly, seeing my relatives living between cultures (I have family who were in Guatemala and in Chile) has given me a great feeling of compassion and recognition of others who have had to flee from war zones and create new lives.

What inspires your current work?
I want to show the beauty of the human condition and the holiness of stories by telling the narratives of genocide survivors from around the world. I am inspired by the resilience and fragility of the human spirit and the imperative to show that each life is a unique treasure. Visual art is my conduit for such a message.

Where is your work heading? 
My work is returning to its roots, in oil paintings on true gesso panels.

Do you listen to music while making art? If so, what are you listening to lately? If not, why?
I like silence when I work on tricky paintings, and music from Africa when I do more mundane tasks, such as sewing and making collages. Then I listen to Oliver Mtukutze, Vusi Mahlasela, Miriam Makeba, and many other brilliant African musicians.

What methods can you recommend to students for finding their muse?

If you couldn't be an artist, what would you want to be and why?
I would be a Liberation Theologian, a Liberal minister who believed that Jesus was just a great Jewish prophet who preached that there will be no justice or peace on planet earth until all people are economically advantaged and equal.

Do you collect anything and if so, what? 
I do not collect anything, but I love books! Luckily, I have an e-reader, or the house would implode!

What are 3 things people might not know about you?

  1. I had trouble learning to read and to write and had to have a special tutor. My school thought I was dyslexic. Now, I love to write.
  2. I cannot ride a bike well, and do not care at all.
  3. I only learned to drive at age 34, when I came out here.

Learn more about Tanya on her profile page or view her image gallery.

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