featured project

Tariku Shiferaw, A Sign in Space

Project Team Members (Powerhouse Arts Staff): Biata Roytburd, Katie Coughlin, Jeffrey Close, Brian Ferreira, Eleni Kontos, and Noah Heil

Presenter(s): Galarie Lelong

project overview

Tariku Shiferaw collaborated with Powerhouse Arts to craft an intriguing series of sculptures, collectively titled “A Sign in Space.” These unique artworks were presented at Galarie Lelong as part of Shiferaw’s latest series, Mata Semay, which translates to “night skies” in Amharic. This series serves as an exploration of a novel mythology that reimagines the night sky, taking into account diasporic cultural contributions on a global scale.

For this solo exhibition, Powerhouse Arts was commissioned to fabricate 14 (out of 24; the rest were fabricated by Meiasha Gray) ceramic sculptures based on Shiferaw’s original work.  By sculpting, hand painting, and firing on site, PHA fabricators ensured that each piece was unique. (The positioning of cross bars, the composition of the cut outs, and the expressiveness of the painting were three of the ways this was achieved.)

For more details about the exhibition, visit the Galerie Lelong website.

artist biography

Tariku Shiferaw is renowned for his mark-making practice, which explores the metaphysical dimensions of painting and societal structures. His geometric abstraction is executed through the dense layering of materials to create “marks” that question the act of space-making and reference the hierarchy of systems. Shiferaw explains that these marks, as physical and tangible as ancient cave markings, reveal the thinker behind the gesture, serving as evidence of prior ideas and self-expression within a given space.

Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, raised in Los Angeles, and currently based in New York City, Shiferaw’s work draws inspiration from the diverse cultures surrounding him, particularly in the realms of music and language. His art can be understood within the framework of midcentury abstraction, but he infuses this formal vocabulary with critical insights drawn from popular culture.