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"Tara Bogart: A Modern Hair Study" opens at hous projects in New York
Tara Bogart, Katie. Photo: Courtesy hous projects.

NEW YORK, NY.- In an era where most images have been fashioned to fit an ideal of airbrushed, spray tanned, artfully coiffed perfection, the almost effortless authenticity of the cameo-like photographs in Tara Bogart’s A Modern Hair Study is refreshingly unpretentious. She evidently agrees with early 20th century American photographer Edward Weston, who valued “the stark beauty that a lens can so exactly render presented without interference of artistic effect.”

Bogart is an artist whose passion for photography emerged early in life in her native Milwaukee. Inspired by an archival image of Felix Nadar’s Hair Study while visiting the National Library of France, she has created a series of intimate portraits of women. Focusing solely on their backs and their hair, she forces the viewer “to contend with all of the peripheral things that make each woman unique.”

Distinguished both by their femininity and anonymity, the portraits in this series are characterized by images that are clearly youthful and contemporary – modern women displayed in an atypical setting. Our immediate attention is captured by variations in hairstyle, color and embellishment, ranging from the plumage-like purple, green and orange hues of Alexis, Tegan and Andee to the vivid body art of Kathryn’s angel wings, and the soulful declaration that rolls gracefully down Saniad’s spine. Even the more subtle styles of mary and tara declare each woman’s personality and preferences, whether at odds or in line with prevailing trends.

Bogart states “In these intimate portraits I am a voyeur concentrating on a generation that is not mine. While certain ideals are often relevant to different generations, the ways in which women adorn and modify themselves often indicate the struggles of a young adult with their own ideology and individuality. After photographing these women, I can imagine these struggles are timeless.”

However, the distinctiveness of tattoos, piercings, eccentric colors and freckles belies the reality that inextricably connects them. These decorations become a fleeting detour for the eye, secondary to the smooth roundness of the shoulder, the soft arch of the neck and delicate prominence of each feminine shoulder blade that links each of these images in a manner far more primal, substantial and enduring.

If the “role of the artist is to observe the beauty that others miss and help them see it through their creative pursuits” (Gary Lanthrum), Bogart achieves a level of reflection that adroitly fulfills that brief. Framing her work with the simplicity of a blush colored background, she accentuates the sensuous womanliness of each photograph. Latin philosopher, Augustine of Hippo opined “Oh, beauty, ever ancient and ever new.” In Modern Hair Study Bogart provides us with a gentle reminder of the immutable nature of femininity, irrespective of era.

Tara Bogart was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has exhibited work at The Portrait Society Gallery, Milwaukee, Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, Grava Gallery, 1934 Seconds Street, Magnolia & Co., Katie Gingrass Gallery, H2O Gallery, Art and Soul Gallery, Review Santa Fe 100, Collect. Give and the Wisconsin Art’s Now Biennial, Charles Allis Art Museum, Milwaukee. She has participated in shows juried by Todd Hido at Rayko Gallery San Francisco, Catherine Edelman of Catherine Edelman Gallery and Brian Ulrich for the Coalition of Photographic Arts. At present, she is an educator at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design.

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